Monday, August 07, 2006

Big M

What a great name for a trail system...

Norba race number three for me has come and gone. Big M was about what I expected, hard riding, good racing, and big fun.

Pre-riding the course on Saturday showed that it was definitely going to be a climber's course. I used to count myself in that category, but I'm not sure now!

2 miles into the ~6.5 course, you get a long .75 mile climb. Man is it a burner. Toward the end it turns up a few more degrees to get a little more lactic acid into you muscles before you get a chance to recover. There were a few screaming downhills, no brakes required, that were fun enough to make you forget the previous pain, but for the most part you seemed to steadily climb from the start till the last bombing hill into the start finish area.

As usual, with the SSer's going off late in the day, the rain came just in time for our race. It was more than welcome this time. A light rain, just enough to cool us off, keep the bugs down, and help with the sand. Thanks Ma Nature!

Now as for the race... I jumped off the line, trying to hold the wheels of the Experts ahead of me. Most of them disappeared into the distance, but I managed to hold one until that first climb. Not sure what gear he had, but he was going too slow for me on the climb, so I passed him up and went it alone. Another expert rider from RBS sat on me for the rest of that lap. He was just behind as we completed the first lap, and he went by 2 miles later at the beginning of that first long climb. I could see in his cadence that he was running a lower gear, maybe 2:1. He walked away from me on that climb. A mile or two later, though, I noticed he was still just ahead and, knowing he had lower gear and would be slower on the flats, I took that opportunity to get his wheel again.

We went on like that throughout lap two. At the end of that lap, we were slowed by some lapped traffic, and two gear heads caught on at the very top of the final, fast and sandy descent. We kept that order, RBS Guy, me, Geary 1 and Geary 2 down the hill.. I'm glad the gearies didn't try to pass on that hill.. 'twould have been baaaad.. Just as we entered the "chute" area before the start finish line, geary 1 calls out to pass, so I let him go on the inside as we're about to hit some flats for a couple miles.. RBS guy is goin' a little slow through the start/finish and geary 1 is rubbin' tires with him and gettin' in
my way, so I jumped out to the outside and with the added rush of the cheering from the throngs of my adoring fans, blew by them both! Geary 2 sucked my wheel and then slipped around me just as we got back into the singletrack. This is fine with me b/c I don't want him tryin' to pass at a less opportune moment down the road. Geary 1 would pass me later in the lap, but I never saw RBS guy again!

Much of the rest of the last lap passed without excitement. I glanced over my shoulder on occasion just to make sure that RBS guy was gone for good, but never saw a soul. Then, just as I was trying to will myself over the last two climbs of the day, content with the fact that we'd finish as we were... SMACK!!! I get a slap on the ass from teammate Tony! I was deflated! I was so sure that I was alone and that I would get away with blowing up on these final climbs. I feel bad, b/c Tony likes to think that my response "oh, what the F**K!" was some how a commentary on my opinion of his abilities as a rider.. :D In fact, it was just the release of frustration at the realization of what I already knew.. that I was kidding myself that I could get away with sitting up the way I did for that last 1/2 of a lap. Not to take anything away from Tbone. He worked his but off to pass me, and was fresh as a daisy as he did. I believe his lap times got faster with each lap.. now THAT's racin'!! Plus, I have to give big Kudos to Tony for trying to help will me up that hill. In the end, though, I was slowing him too much, so he took off. Once at the top of the hill, with Tony still in sight, I felt that if I could just keep his lead from opening, I might have a chance to sneak by him in the chute as I did RBS guy on lap 2. Alas, I was slowed by some more lapped traffic that I just didn't have the legs to sprint around, and by that point I knew that my only hope was for Tony to lose it in the many sand pits that remained. But Tony, clean rider that he is, cleared the sand with no issue, only to nearly lose it all as he missed the turn off for the finish line, nearly heading out for lap 4!! :D But he corrected himself well before I even entered the chute. Not the result I'd hoped, but it certainly made for an exciting race over all.. Cheers, Tony!

In the end, Tony took 2nd, and I 3rd, 7 seconds behind. An unknown took 1st about 1-2 minutes ahead of us.

So, PLRA XC is next. I'm really looking forward to a battle at this race. Lots of my team will be there (no doubt to beat up on me.. ;) ) and there'll be a lot of good competition! Hope to see ya there!




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