It was cold and damp lining up in the starting paddock, but the body and mind felt good and ready to go. And we were off. I got started farther back in the paddock than I would have liked, so I pulled a fast pace to get more towards the lead pack within the first km or two. The trail was in great condition!! The sandy earth in Mansfield was nicely packed from the rain and the moisture in the air. And I had a great pace going! I was hard on the wheel of the rider in front of me, looking for the twisty single track to widen up to find a safe position to pass. Then disaster struck (insert overly dramatic orchestral music here).
About 10 – 12 km in, on one of the longer singletrack climbs, my chain let go with a loud ‘thunk’! I looked down to see it hanging, snapped in half. Off the bike, flip it over off the edge of the trail, throw down gloves, riding glasses, and pull out the chain breaker. Snap off the offending broken link, and pull out a quick link. Meanwhile everyone I had managed to pull in front of off the start was passing me. NewfieSteve passed by and offered to lend assistance but I told him to keep going...no reason to ruin his race. I snap the quick link onto the opposite ends of the broken chain and pull the links together, but they refuse to link up!! After many choice words and repeated attempts to get the link to snap shut...it just won’t. I pull out another new quick link (I just happened to have two), and repeat the process, but again, it just would not link up. (Have I mentioned yet that I am quite possibly the world’s worst bike mechanic??). By now EVERYONE has passed me...I was Robinson Caruso...alone and abandoned...forever. Not sure what to do next, I assumed that perhaps the broken chain link, had twisted the neighbouring links, so I pull out the chain breaker again and pull off these links, apply the quick link (again), and after several more attempts it partially links up! I flip the bike upright, and apply some torque to a pedal, and the quick link snapped into place!! My glasses had gotten messed in the wet leaves, so i shove them into a pocket, throw the gloves on, get on the bike and get going. The chain repair was not perfect, the chain skipped in certain gears, but it was go hard, or go home...I had so much ground to make up!! The repair set me back 20 minutes exactly!
So....go hard I did. It was, full on, balls out riding. With no one in front to slow me down, it was a full out 40 km sprint to finish. I was pushing my quads, back, and lungs to the limit. But I was just too far behind to make up enough time in that remaining distance. I passed many riders, but the main group I was after was out of reach. However, my main reason for doing this race (it was not originally on my planned schedule of races), was to test my fitness level, and I was very happy with my effort. I was able to go all out, without any issues; no cramping, and the legs and lungs were willing to go as hard as I could push them, which is great for this early in the season.
There are a few things I still need to work on, but this was a fun race, and I am glad I did it. Saw a few familiar faces, got to test myself, and the trail was fun and challenging. Dan of Substance Projects always runs a first rate race. Looking forward to the next one! Here is hoping the rest of the season is ‘mechanical’ free!