This pretty much sums up the season for me. About 3 laps into the single-speed race at the 3rd annual Ice Weasels I blew out my rear wheel. This was after a nasty crash at the start where Peter "the Cat" Bradshaw dropped his chain and pitched over the bars into me in full sprint mode my wheel blew up. Luckily Peter was OK though he must be well past his 9 lives. I managed to stay upright and although a bit shaken and slightly bruised, was only slightly worse for wear. I gave chase frantically and made some sketchy passes and tanked the flyover when I was unable to get my feet on the pedals for the descent but rode it out and marched forth. A couple laps in I settled and started forward progress in earnest. Shortly thereafter I noticed that all too familiar feeling for a single-speed, I was pedaling but drive-train was slipping. With a Shimano freehub system this usually means you have blown the pawls on the freehub or in some cases, the teeth on the splines are crudded up and the pawls can't engage. In the the extreme case, like on a tandem, it could mean you have sheared off the freehub body mounting splines on the hub shell. This has only happened once, to me anyhow. Alas, I was running a Mavic Ksyrium SL rear wheel and the extent of the failure wouldn't be fully evident to me until I opened her up at home and upon doing so, the verdict was grim; total failure. The rim had been tweaked enough to rub badly on the brakes and frame during the start line crash anyhow and was on it's last leg to begin with, so the only really unfortunate thing was that I was left unable to finish the race. My fault for using these wheels in the first place especially given the fact that I have a trick set of SS specific wheels that are totally bomb proof and were ready to go.
After the SS race disappointment I didn't even line up for the second race. Chip handed me a beer as I was exiting the course and the flow never stopped after that. As that final race of the day started I soon regretted my decision to hang it up. I'm a terrible spectator. In terms of the SS race though, Cathy ripped it up and took the win as well as a beer and Jello feed. This netted her a snazzy custom Igelheart cross fork and a check that nearly covered the expenses. Thanks Colin and sorry but Robert snagged your fridge yesterday. I've still got an electric stove that you can have :)
I didn't really get enough time racing to really make much of a comment on the course. It was much twistier than years past and a bit longer as well. I will say that I preferred last year's event in the snow as it certainly played better to my skill set. That said, this was probably the best course yet with the best conditions, weather and amenities. There was also more beer available than ever, possibly two much as I was slurring pretty badly by the end of the day. Many thanks to all involved in putting on a stellar event.
So today it is raining and thus begins the long season of reflection. I'll certainly use last season as fuel for the fire for next season. For now it is all just a mix of memories and images, most of which fall below hopes and expectations. These ghosts are sure to haunt the long training sessions that will soon start for next season.