Singlespeed: 4 laps, 6 miles each
We started with a small group, I’m guessing 40 or so riders in Pro, Singlespeed, and Cat 1 (there were more riders in other categories but they started behind us). By halfway up the climb I was in second place, stuck on the wheel of Chris Jones (Pro road/cross/mtb for Team Type 1) and we had a small gap on the field. Right about this time the fireroad got steep and loose and I had to hike-a-bike. Not only did I quickly become unstuck from Chris’ wheel, but I was also passed by Greg Stone, Jeff Angerman, Katerina Nash, and a local Reno pro triathlete (all geared riders).
I would be unable to ride this steep/loose section on any of the 4 laps, and jog/walking it caused me to quickly go into the red zone. I tried as best I could to settle in and minimize the damage and quickly caught and passed the triathlete (sorry I don’t remember his name) in the windy trail through the woods. This left me to ride in no-man’s land for the rest of that lap.
I was running a Continental Mt. King 2.4 on the front, and a Michelin Dry 2 on the rear, both tubeless tires. Before the race, I decided to try something new, and lowered the pressure in both tires to 24 lbs. I’m not sure why I did this since I don’t think I’ve ever raced with pressure that low, but for some reason I always seem compelled to try something new before a race(!). Since I was riding my hardtail Scott Spark singlespeed, I bottomed out the rear tire several times, so had to ride extremely carefully through any rocky section or risk a puncture or tire-roll. I think 28 lbs in the rear would have been perfect.
I rode a 34×19 gear, and since I had to do most of the climb standing up, I think I could have gone with something even easier: maybe a 34×20. This would have made the rolling sections a little tougher as I’d have had to spin super fast, but ahhh, this is the blessing and curse of singlespeeding.
The Sky Tavern course is fun and fairly easy, basically it has three main sections:
- Main fire-road climb from the start line, steep and loose towards the top
- Technical singletrack at the top: first through tight trees then a beautiful open meadow with three stream crossings. Heads-up riding required! If you drop your vision for a moment, you’ll probably blow the next turn
- Single and dual track descent (interrupted by a stair step climb halfway down). Mostly fun and windy, not technical except for the few high-speed, off-camber, loose, fire-road corners
On the second climb, I slowly closed on Jeff and Katerina until the steep/loose section when the gap reopened. I rode as smooth as possible and caught Jeff in the technical section across the top (he was obviously not having a great day) and Katerina on the descent and we started the third climb together. Huffing and puffing as we rode side by side, I looked over and said “um, yeah, you’re climbing a lot faster this time than you were on the last lap” to which she replied “well that’s because it’s my last lap!” Lucky her, and I couldn’t do much but watch her ride away, and handily win her pro race.
I rode the rest of the race by myself uneventfully and finished in 3rd overall, 1st place in the Singlespeed division. Best part of the day? Getting $40 in prize money (the race cost $30), and having a great recovery lunch at Burger Me in Truckee: Turkey Burger with PepperJack, Avocado, Jalepenos and Tzatziki sauce; yum!