Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton
On Saturday 22 September Wes and I took part in the Bainbridge Believe Project Race held at Northern Farm where we do most of our cycling training. We were so excited as we know this track and were keen to do well. The night before was my my sister’s 21st and driving home that night it started pouring with rain and when the alarm rang at 5 to get ready it had not relented. But come hell or (literally) high water we would do the race – the awesome thing about mountain biking is that you can do it anywhere, anytime.
There was such a good vibe on the day despite the weather or maybe because of it? We collected our race packs and sat in the car watching the 55km riders leave. We had planned to cycle the 25km route and were ready and expectant of a great time and experience! We started the race right at the back and will never make this mistake again – it was such a mission to pass all the slower and “less experienced” (I can hardly call myself experienced but people were on a proper relaxed ride) riders.
These tattooed arms warmers actually kept us very warm, keeping those as I don’t have cycling ones yet!
About 6km into the race on the first very muddy uphill my pedals locked and I came to an abrupt stop. I half fell half climbed off my bike to investigate but couldn’t find anything wrong, I slowly tried to pedal again and progressed for a metre or so before the pedals locked again; I had to continue in this fashion for the rest of the uphill. The following straight and fast downhill was great but then again on the next little hill – nothing. I was leaning over my bike, again trying to figure out what was causing this, when Wes appeared by my side, “Your bike is giving the same problems as mine!”. I couldn’t believe he was here I expected him to be far ahead of me in the race but alas his bike had also failed him in the muddy conditions.
Chain-suck becomes THE major issue when you experience it. Your pedals lock solid, you come to an abrupt binding stop, and you fall over into the dirt. It can be tenaciously difficult to eliminate during a ride, and keeps recurring once initiated. So it can bring your trip or race to a complete standstill and you walk up the hills pushing your bike. It can also damage both frame and drive-train components. There are two situations where it occurs most commonly: 1) With mud or wet grit on your chain and cogs 2) During gear changes on the front chain-rings. Its always worse on steep uphill slopes or when otherwise pedalling with force.
It is a good article to read for a full and more technical explanation than I would be able to offer you.
We tried cleaning the chains as best we could, using water from our hydration packs and then set the bikes in gear two on the front derailer and one on the back; finishing the race as single-speed riders!
Along the way we met a guy with the same bike as us (Axis A60) and he was having the same problem. As a result, we have decided to start putting away some money every month and hopefully by next year June on our 1 year cycling anniversary we will be able to buy a bike which can withstand more adverse conditions. Our great but still entry-level bikes are just not going to get us through all the awesome adventures and trails we have planned.
All in all the race was probably the most fun either of us has had on a bike! We laughed, we chatted, we slid our way through deep mud sections and we even had some shots at the 12km mark! Never has apple and cherry sours tasted so good.
We fell in love all over again.
We finished in two and a half hours – not too bad considering but the real win of the race was most definitely the experience and great time we both had! Never mind kissing in the rain; cycle in the rain. Or a bit of both 😉
Definitely doing this race again next year and especially because it is for a good cause. Another great thing about a race held on the farm where we normally train is being exposed to new sections of it to explore.
Wes spent the entire afternoon cleaning the bikes: dismantling them completely to get into all the parts whilst I babysat my cousin’s little 8 month old. Not too sure who had the most exhausting and dirty job? I was covered in flings, milk, spit, liquidated broccoli and cheese and all kinds of good things that come with being an inexperienced baby-minder!Click on images to view larger versions.