The snow showers stayed away until the day after at this years Iceman to make it another great event. Once my race clothing was figured out and my numerous trips to the porta-potty were made, I found my way to the front of 40-44 experts in the start chute. The usual cast of characters were up front with Meyers, Collins, Schubel, Melcher, Vega and Wittbrodt. My brother for some odd reason was missing in action as we started to move forward towards the start banner. He finally showed up with a few minutes to spare, and we lifted his bike over the barriers to get him up in the front row. Mark and I were on the right side against the barriers for the start and as luck would have we touched briefly as our race started while bikes were going down to our left before we even made it fifty yards from the line. The first obstacle of the day was a sandy left turn that would take us from the middle school and point us to the road we would cross and into the first mile of two track. I was about seventh out of the left hand corner after staying to the outside while Mark cut over with Melcher on the inside. Before the road crossing I had passed Mark and made it a goal to latch onto the lead group of Meyers, Wittbrodt and Melcher. After a very fast mile I had put myself into fourth and was gaining on the three when Meyers went down hard on a sweeping corner where he bounced back up and stood in the middle of the trail. Good thing I'm nice because it could have been a bad scenario if I would have t-boned him. At that moment Melcher and Wittbrodt picked the pace up with a good attack and I was left dangling by myself in third a few hundred feet back with Meyers back on his bike and slowly coming back to my rear tire. I was hoping to to work with Meyers to catch the two up front, but he made the pass and slowly rode away from me. I kept him in sight until we got into lots of slower traffic from the wave ahead of us and from that point it was just a hard tempo ride with hopes of the leaders re-appearing. With a bottle hand up coming at Williamsburg Road I was pretty confident that I had fourth place locked up as I went into my turbo diesel mode and focused on the course. Everything seemed fine until the outside of my left foot started to cant down towards the ground with about eight miles to go. At first I thought I might have smacked something and had a bent pedal spindle until I looked down and could see four to five threads showing where the pedal goes into the crankarm. My pedal was one thread from falling off the crank arm. Of course I panicked and skidded to a stop like I was leaving rubber in my parents driveway. On the first stop I was able to thread the pedal back in by hand and get rolling again until it backed out again just a mile down the trail. Stop number two was the long one as I struggled to find an 8mm hex wrench as a lot of bikes went by me while I nervously wrenched on my pedal. Once I got going again I came up on Tim Collins and Neal Schubel who I have known for many years and went past them near Anita's Hill. I know that a few 40-44 experts got me in the last few miles also as my confidence was gone and I had a phobia of the pedal falling off as I rolled towards the finish trying to limit damage and places lost. After making it to the 1k to go banner I knew I had dodged a bullet with this weird mechanical issue that I have never had happen in twenty years of racing. Result wise I figured to be just inside the top twenty, but was surprised with a 7th out of 111 finishers in my class. I ended up with a time in the 1:46:40's and believe that without the stops I was on target for a time in the 1:42 range. Maybe next year will go smoothly as I have a new age group to look forward to along with maybe zero bike issues.
I was told by a few friends after the race that my toe cover could have caused my pedal to back itself out if there was contact and heavy friction between the spindle and neoprene. These pedals made it through the last two WORS races just fine and what I found with some Googling to explain this mystery is quoted below from Sheldon Brown's website.
"In machinery, fretting is the micro-motion of tightly fitting parts that superficially appear immobile with respect to each other. Pedals have similar relative motions in the attachment thread and pressure face on the shoulder of the spindle. This is also a dynamic joint that appears to be static. In the case of the pedal, fretting motion is directional and can cause precession by the "wandering" load whose center of pressure rotates in the crank thread opposite to the rotation of the crank. Even without clearance, elastic deformation of the crank and pedal spindle cause micro motions that, if not countered by an appropriate thread direction, will unscrew the pedal. The presence of a left hand thread on the left pedal and on many bottom bracket right side bearing cups is proof that fretting occurs."
A big thanks needs to go out to all my sponsors(Specialized, Adventure 212, Hayes Brakes, Manitou, SUNringle Wheels, Ergon, Dakine, and Twin 6) for making 2008 a great season of riding and racing. Without great products and the people who represent those companies, cycling would not be as much fun.
Pedal on, but make sure to check your pedals before every ride...