Over the Barriers Originally uploaded by liveplayride

OK, let's acknowledge right off the bat that there were only 5 guys in our race -- the singlespeed B/C race at the Livermore series this weekend. Not exactly a huge field to try and work one's way through.

But still. Second place. My first podium finish in a bike race in I don't know how long.

A very chilly morning out in Livermore when we arrived, in the mid-40s, which now that I'm an honorary Northern Californian seems like the Arctic. I had brought both my regular cross bike, as well as this super-cool new Raleigh Rainier singlespeed that the folks there sent me to try out (Thanks, Brian and Susan!). I decided that it was time to take the singlespeed plunge, and registered for that race.

Felt pretty good in the warmup, especially since all of us here at McClusky World HQ seem to have been fighting a cold since Thanksgiving. I didn't know what to expect racing a singlespeed, so I decided that I'd just gun it, and hold on as well as I could.

First two laps were good, as I was about 10 seconds ahead of the second place rider in the singlespeed field, my teammate Brian Birch. Brian's a super strong guy who just finished in the top five of the 55+ Masters series in the Bay Area, and who won two Masters rowing national titles last year. Basically, as I told him after the race, he's a walking lung.

Looking at my data from the race, I was very consistent in my laps throughout the race. Brian was able to bridge the gap up to me and pass me, but I jumped on his wheel for a lap and half, never able to find a place to jump past him. I felt good, but I was learning the importance of gearing in a singlespeed race. I was spun out in several spots on the course, and with a slightly higher gear, I think I could have put in an attack that would have challenged Brian.

It wasn't to be, however. My last chance was to get him right before the line, at a set of barriers followed by a slight hill, a right turn, and then the finish. I sprinted over the barriers, pulling slightly ahead, but as I tried to remount, I managed to land to the side of my saddle, and went down. Brian cruised in for the win, and I hopped back on the bike, and came in for second.

So, hey, first and second place for Team Oakland, which was nice.

Singlespeed is definitely a blast. I need to get a higher gear on the bike, but I'm thrilled to have it to play with, and to have gotten on the podium. Next week, I think I'm back out to Livermore to race the Men's C race, and there's not much left to the season after that....

AuthorMark McClusky