Monday, April 6, 2009

Finally a mtn. bike race weekend

So I finally got to race my mtn. bike this year. A combination of being sick and just overall foul weather has resulted in my missing the first few events but this weekend the weather was perfect. Saturday was the 6 hour race at Warrior Creek then Sunday was a regular cross country race at Tsali. We had never ridden at either place so we were really looking forward to it.

We loaded in the car Saturday morning and headed off to the bike races. Ellie is always excited to go to the races as she always makes friends and plays all day so she was looking forward to going. Nikolas is getting the hang of it but still requires a close eye or there is no telling what kind of trouble he will find. It definitely makes the day more of a challenge and not a great deal of "rest" between your laps.

The plan was for me to ride the first lap and then Mellie would do the next two. She wanted to get a solid two hours at race pace so I was more than happy to let her have at it. From there we would each do single laps until they told us to stop riding. We raced in the coed class of course and both of us were on our single speeds.

No Lemans start which I was more than happy with but we did have a 1.5 mile paved start loop before we hit the trails. Due to the pavement loop being pretty hilly I was able to stay towards the front of a big group as we wound our way through the park. Upon hitting the dirt I got tangled up with a guy that was up with the front group but quickly figured out that maybe he was in over his head. As we started going by him on both sides he came over into my line and down we went. Nothing like getting your race started by picking yourself up off the ground.

From there I just got into a good pace and started picking guys off. The trail was constantly up and down with virtually no flat ground. Super swoopy bermed corners and tons of little rises that would give you that roller coaster feel. By the end of the first lap I had caught the two leaders and rode in to complete my first lap with them.

I handed the timer off to Mellie and then tried to get something to eat and drink and take care of the monkeys. Ellie as expected found friends to play with so she was easy. Nikolas was happy to play with his trucks at our camp site so I was able to relax and get myself refueled and ready to go. Unfortunately I missed Mellie starting her 2nd lap due to diaper changing duties but was told she went through with a smile on her face so I knew all was well.

The laps were in the one hour range so I had a bit more time to hang out and relax before my second lap. Soon enough it was time for me to head out for my next lap and I was thinking that with everyone so spread out at this point I wouldn't see many people on my lap. Not a bad deal was my thought, the trail was tight and it just meant that I wouldn't get stuck behind many people. To my surprise once I got going I caught a ton of people. Everyone was good about letting me by though I did have one guy tell me to hang back and he would pace me for a while. I politely told him that I was going quite a bit faster than him and asked again for him to let me by when he got the chance. He obliged and I was on my way. I felt like I got into the flow of the trail and since I now knew where I was going it felt faster than my first lap. A check of the results later showed I was going pretty quick that lap, it was the fastest overall lap of the day.

Mellie clicked off her last lap and then I headed out for mine with the knowledge that there was no way we could be caught so I put it on cruise control. I figured I would save a little energy in case I got to race the next day.

Good day to be at the races, we both got in 33 miles and we won the coed class and finished 5th overall out of all the two person teams.

As luck would have it Mellie didn't get called into work Sunday so we were of to race at Tsali. New places are always fun and I had heard good things about the course so I was really looking forward to the race. Two big 13 mile loops and then a short 4 mile loop to complete the course. I put on the biggest gear I have run on the single speed, a 36X16 and lined up with a group of 40 Pros.

The start was on a nice wide gradual climb which would have been perfect if the single track had been at the top but instead we went back down the same nice wide grave road to get to the tight stuff. I tried to hold my spot but it was pretty much impossible and I went into the single track in about 30th place.

There were pretty big groups of guys riding together so passing was pretty tough early in the race. I managed to work my way forward and only had a couple of instances where guys made it more difficult to get by than they should have. One guy dive bombed me as we entered a small creek crossing and then promptly let the group we were riding in start to ride away from us. I "encouraged" him to pick up the pace and close the gap so he sprinted for about 15 seconds and then blew up and let me by. Thanks. I caught another guy just at the top of a small rise and as I started to pass him he sprinted me for the downhill. He told me he wanted to get to the downhill first because he had a big travel fork and could rip the downhill. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was riding a rigid fork and he was holding me up. I figured he would see that after I passed him at the bottom of the hill.

About halfway through the second big lap I started really feeling the effort from the day before. I noticed I was getting complacent as I caught groups and would ride behind them longer than I should. I never felt really bad but just didn't have that little bit extra that I needed. So I paced myself and focused on having fun and reminded myself that I was there for training anyways.

As I hit the last short loop I had a couple of guys in my sights but since I had no idea how much further I had to go I was a bit to conservative. Definitely cost me one spot but still I finished 13th in a pretty strong field and felt good about my day. Maybe next time I won't have a race in my legs from the day before and we will all be on even ground. No matter I got to kick off my 2009 mtn. bike season with back to back 30+ mile races, what could be better?