Tuesday, August 14, 2007

OK, Where was I??

Oh yeah...

So, as I pondered what might have been as I watched Erin disappear on the horizon, I reminded myself that this was going to be my longest ride of the year to date, and all I'd had for breakfast was a peanut butter and honey sandwich. I had to ride my own race or I was gonna die out there.

I'm a little hazy on what followed immediately after the road climb, but shortly I was riding a fairly rocky, loose two track that quickly turned downhill. This is going to be fun. The signs on the side of the trail warned of washouts, all the better. Since my Super D experience in VT I've gained a lot of confidence in my downhilling, especially back here in the midwest. And to top things off, who do I run into again but Erin. Again, we exchanged encouragement for a moment. Now if you know Erin, you know that she needs to be staked down in a stiff breeze. This was not helping to keep her in front of me as the trail turned downward, so I picked my way by and let go of the brakes! What a ride! There was nothing technical or tricky about this section, but it was fast and loose. At the end was a sign that I couldn't really make out, but I imagine it was to warn me of the washout at the bottom of this hill I had just come screaming down. Now, there's a somewhat sharp right hand turn at the bottom, and lo and behold, the trail is washed out with only a rather narrow spot to cross through the rut smoothly. As long as you stay to the inside you're ok. I wasn't to the inside. Just as I was marveling at the idea that the organizers had put a gap jump into the trail, I noticed the narrow crossing. I locked up the breaks, but managed to hit the opening and get across unscathed. That could have been ugly (right Cary?? ;) )

Ok, so here's where waiting this long to post this race report becomes a problem. I'm a little hazy on the details of the trail from this point on. With less than 10 miles to go I was passed by Lyle from the BKB. At this point I had no idea where I was in the standings, but I tried to imagine he had just put me out of the top 10 as motivation to ride back into him. It was no use, he was g-o-n-e... So I continued to ride my race, hoping to limit the damage to the end. AT this point a woman passes me on my right. DAMN. And, of course, not long after that, Erin again. This girl is insane. A couple years ago she wrapped herself around a tree at Yankee while we were out pre-riding. I helped her up and waited for her to recover a little before getting on my bike and hammering out the rest of my lap thinking she would be quite a bit behind. She was less than a minute behind in the end (over about 4-5 miles). This girl can ride through some pain!!

Only this time, as E goes by, she's complaining that she's got no legs left, she's hurtin', and the woman that just passed was 5th place. So I yelled at her that she's got no legs, just a massive Detroit Diesel pushin' her over the course, and to get her ass up there and catch that chick!! And dammit if she didn't take off like a bat out of hell!! Respect!

Feeling I had done my job, I pushed on, hoping to not have to follow my own orders if another SSer should pass. a couple miles later, a rider does go by, and he's sportin' the unmistakable locks of Kevin LaRoe.. He's an SSer I've seen around the last couple of years, though I think he's been SSing much longer than I. I'm pretty sure that I've always gotten the better of him, but today seems to be a different story. He just went flying past on one of the rare hard packed dirt roads. He was 20 yards up the road before I even knew what was going on. Again, I lacked the power to gap up to him, but it did give me a kick in the butt to make sure I kept my cadence up!

Shortly after that we came to what I would find out was the last climb of the day. A soft, sandy straight climb that they had to use wood chips to FIRM UP!! As I began my climb, wondering if I'd be best to walk, I hear screams of pain coming from the top of the hill.. It's ERIN! She'd been brought to her knees by leg cramps, and was trying to get back up and onto her bike. With every step Her legs wobbled and then seized up again in pain. By now I am off the bike and walking up the climb, just watching in empathetic agony. I finally reach the top and Erin still hasn't been able to mount her bike. I helplessly asked if there was any way I could help, but she declined and said she'd just try to get through it. Man, what a bummer. She was riding so hard and having a pretty good race from where I sat. What a way to end the day.. :(

But my day wasn't over. I'm inside 5 miles to go now, and just trying to muster everying I have left to make sure I leave nothing in the tank at the end. I ramp the cadence up again, and curse the fact that there's no-one out here for me to chase. So I have to turn to those chasing me for motivation. Soon there's a sign indicating single track again. Finally!! Just before the single track I can hear voices behind me. There's a lone rider and a Tandem. I'm guessing that it's friends Cris and Craig. Midway through the single track there's a tricky quick climb through a few trees over some rocks and roots. The loose sand has been giving my Maxxis semi-slick rear tire trouble all day, so I opted to hop off and cyclocross it. I hopped back on feeling confident that I hadn't lost much ground, when I hear sounds of a crash behind me. I think Cris and Craig had trouble navigating the climb and got hung up. Great, more space.

Shortly after We're into the last 1.5 mils to go. I pop out onto some pavement and my heart sinks. There's no way I'm going to out run a tandem on the pavement in my 36x17!! But a quick check over my shoulder and they're still a ways off, so I start to work up the cadence. Slowly at first b/c there's still over a mile to go. There's a short stint back on the dirt and some extremely unpleasantly bumpy grass, and back onto pavement that must be near the finish as I can see the complex of buildings where the finish is located. By now I've worked up to a pretty high cadence.. 90-100 rpm? But still not going nearly fast enough to hold off a charging tandem I think. I glanced back and they were still a ways off.. As I round the corner there's people lined up on on either side. I must be in the finish straight!! They're yelling for me, but then I can hear them immediately cheering for the tandem as well. I turned my little legs over as fast as they would go, tunnel vision on the finish. I came in just yard ahead of Cris and Craig who were charging up fast!! Relief!! I hit the end of the finish chute and was greeted by a nice old lady who took my timing chip. I could barely stand my quads were screaming in misery!!! I nod to some of my friends who were there still milling about, and then turn around, and what do I see.. There's ERIN, less than a minute behind me!!! Even after being brought to her knees by leg cramps, she gets back up on the bike and almost runs me down. This girl is F.A.S.T.!!!

Well, I'll spare you any more boring details. That was it. My race. I had one of the best ride of my life. Probably due largely to the fact that I was in no shape to really race, so I basically rode against myself and learned how to manage a long race and portion my energy and effort to get me to the finish. Hopefully next year I'll be able to pair that with better training, and improve my place and time. Final result: 19th of 35 in SS and 165th of 518 overall.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long race? Sounds like good training for a long ride, like this...

24/8/07 10:05 PM  

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