Sunday, August 13, 2006

RACE REPORT: Howell Mountain Challenge

After missing this spring's Napa Valley Classic, I had circled today on the calendar to make sure that I got down to the Howell Mountain Challenge. From what people had told me, this was a slightly smaller, shorter and less strenous race. And with this morning's weather it looked cool and dry. So everything was good: nice ride down with Zon, easy parking, hassle-free registration and even some free swag (Clif bars and Cytomax if you must know). And shockingly, the race started exactly on time with military precision.

I got out fast in my group and soon found myself with another guy off the front by the first climb. The course was great: swooping, tricky singletrack, a few fireroads, switchbacks here and there, even some tough hills. And I was riding well. So well, that by time I got out of the second set of singletrack, I was well up on everyone in my class. And then it all came completely f***king apart. Literally.

On the uphill near the 6.5 mile mark, I downshifted and heard a crack. And a rattle. Like spokes being torn. As I skidded to a stop, it was obvious that my race was over. My rear derailleur was resting on the ground, attached to the bike by only the shifter cable. I had snapped my derailleur hanger completely in half. So I did what anyone would do: I swore for a minute, threw my helmet a few times and then tried to triage my wounded steed. No luck -- I didn't have my chain tool so all I could do was strap broken bits to my bike with twist ties.

So I walked my bike out of the forest, all 5 miles to the finish. It sucked. On the brightside, I did get a great GPS map of the course -- moving at 3 MPH really helps the accuracy.

My carpooler, Zon, had much better luck. He caught me around mile 7 on the way in from his second lap and powered to 2nd place in his class. I guess he was only 30 seconds behind the winner. Below is a picture of him getting his medal.

Even with my bad luck, this was one of the best races that I went to all year. Great course, top notch organization, low price and a good vibe. I haven't seen Here are the official race results (they promised to have them up tonight), and I posted my pictures over on Google Albums:

2006 Howell Mountain Classic
Aug 13, 2006 - 26 Photos


Brian Pepple said...

Your ride's got a replaceable derailer hanger doesn't it?

/k said...

Yeah, I just need to order a new one. Maybe a LBS has one in stock.