I used the Summer Showdown, the last Mid Atlantic Super Series race of the season, as my goal for recovering from my knee injury. The course at Bear Creek Ski Mountain in Macungie, Pa. is typically one of the most technical of the series, and tends to suit my strengths as a rider well. They also offered double series points for this race to encourage attendance, which was a bonus. With some solid riding under my belt, I felt good going into the event.
Chuck and the rest of the Bear Creek crew have been hard at work building new trail sections for the race. I didnâ€™t get a chance to pre-ride the final course, but word was that the climbs were more manageable then previous years. I opted to gear down to 32×20 on my Kona 29â€™er for the climbs and technical sections.
Before the race, I did my warmup on the road bike and rollers, and felt good heading to the start. The Elite field had a solid turnout, and it was good to be back to racing with these guys. As we waited at the start line I looked around and no one else was riding singlespeed. Hmmmm. This was a first. I can usually count on Topher, Yozell, or someone else to be going mono-cog. Maybe they knew something I didnâ€™t?
After a delayed start, we got going in the middle of a fairly hot day. Temperatures were in the 80â€™s, and with a few short climbs and some technical sections, the field spread out quickly. I fell in line behind Topher, whoâ€™s another good technical rider, and the first lap went well. When we hit the start of the second lap, Topher and his gears disappeared ahead of me on the flat sections. After the race he fessâ€™ed up that he had pre-ridden and decided to run gears for this very reason. The remainder of the race I held my position, only getting passed by one rider, and passing a couple. On the last lap I ended up riding with fellow Jim Thorpeâ€™er Jamie Huber (EWR). We both cramped up on the last steep climb, I pushed through it and finished 14th, Jamie 15th. Against this field that felt like a solid finish. Gears would have helped, but not by a huge amount. Harlan Price (IF) picked up the win.
In the end I finished 6 MASS series races. The promoters count 7 results for the series, and I ended up 14th overall. With Topherâ€™s conversion to a geared bike, mine was the top Elite placing for a singlespeed rider.
Looking back on my season riding singlespeed at the regional level in the Elite Open class, I feel good about my results. On a couple courses, Grangue and Bear Creek, my lack of top end gearing was a disadvantage. On others, such as French Creek, riding singlespeed worked very well.