06 September, 2011

Maybury, Maybury, and Ruby

Man I suck at this whole blog thing.  I had such grand plans of racing, then blogging about the experience.  Yet here it is, over 2 weeks later and I am just getting started.

I am not sure what kind of detail I will be able to recall at this point.  Honestly, I don't really remember what I had for breakfast today!

First up is Maybury.  I like this course rather well last year.  I was racing beginner, and won my category, and had the fast time of all beginners.  The weather then was cold and dreary.  This year, it was hot, humid, and muggy, and humid...

I got to the park around 8 am.  I hiked the canopy and equipment back to the finish area to set up camp.  Standing around watching me work was Motor head Aryn.  Once I get things in order, he offered to help, but it was time for him to go warm up for the Expert race.

I was racing Sport 30-34 on the Superfly 100, and the start was about 10:30.  I got changed and started my warm up.  I wasn't sure really how I was feeling early on.  I was feeling bad, but things weren't really feeling optimal.  I rode around a bit, and caught up with Aryn on an uphill on his second lap.  I pulled alongside and cheered him on.  He started to comment back, and I told him to shut up and pedal.  If you can talk, you aren't working hard enough!  I did a bit more warming up, and I thought my legs were beginning to come around.  Maybe the 46 miles at Ore to Shore the previous week rode some sort of form back into them.

As I finished my warm up and headed to the start, my legs just died.  I lost all power and wasn't feeling confident at all.  When the time to race came, I went out hard, trying to figure out where things were going wrong.  It felt like I was working very hard, and going very slow.  Every incline felt huge, much larger than I recalled from the previous year.

I strugled through the entire route.  On the pavement leading back, another rider blew by me and told me to jump on.  I hopped into his draft and worked hard to stay there.  Unfortunately right after the pavement was two of the hardest climbs in the whole course, and I blew up on the road leading in.

I finished, but not strong, and not feeling good.  I immediately swapped bikes, and headed to the truck to add another tooth to the rear cog. Strong I was not.  After switching things around, I checked the results to find I was in 6th, DFL.  Later, I saw a couple more riders finished behind me, but didn't make things any better.  I was ~3 minutes faster than last year, but on a different course, and supposedly with more training.  Whatever.

I sat in the shade for about an hour, trying to cool off, rehydrate, eat, and figure out what the hell was going on with my body.  Not much time to reflect, as I had to get ready for my next race, Expert SS.  I wasn't excited to ride again, but I had already paid.

I got into the chute, and the Motor Club started cheering for me.  I was starting to feel a bit better.  At the go, I took off and hammered down the opening road.  I was spun out on my gear, and feeling fast.  The early part of the course felt decent.  The hills were smaller, and things were beginning to feel good.  I hadn't caught anybody, I hadn't seen anybody, but the good news is, nobody caught me.

Aryn and Brian came out to a couple points on the course to cheer me on.  The met me on the road near the finish again.  The were going to pace me up the hill, but I will be damned if I was going to take any help, and hammered with all I could.  I guess their plan worked, as they motivated me around the curve and up the hill.  I finished strong and collapsed just past the line.  I was spent.

I checked the results as soon as I was up (thanks Race Services) and saw I was in 4th, with a time 1 minute faster than my geared bike.  I don't know if the time difference can be attributed to gears, gaining familiarity of the route, race support, or bike confidence.  I am leaning towards the latter three.  In the end, I again finished 6th, top of the bottom 50%.

Time to tuck my tail between my legs, head home, and debate whether it was going to be worth driving to the Ruby Campground the next day.

From my understanding, the weather for Ruby is always rain.  Although I tend to perform better in the cool miserable days, I wasn't positive about the 4 hour round trip drive.  In the morning, I checked the radar, and decided what the hell.  I loaded of the SF100 and hit the road.

This race felt different.  I had already clinched the Tailwind Singlespeed series.  So this race was just for fun.  I was there for a fun day and that is all.  OK, a fund day and to win.  The guy in the car parked next to me mentioned the water was thigh high!  Wow, this will be interesting.

I didn't warm up as much, just explored the first half of the trail, and previewed the water crossings.  They didn't look very deep at all, and an Expert/Elite racer told me he just rode across.  So my thought was, if I was near the front I would try to ride the water, if at the back I would hoof it.

Again my boy Aryn gave me some insight on the race.  He told me line up in the front row on the right.  Hole shot was the key.  Heeding his advice, I lined up in the second row, far left side.  I was there just for fun afterall.

At the start the riders took off (maybe 8 of us) along the dirt road.  It seemed nobody wanted to lead out, and nobody was pushing the pace.  So I jumped around, splashed through some mud puddles and entered the singletrack second wheel.  Ahead of me was a 19-29 racer who kept looking over his shoulder.  I told him I was not racing him, lets work together and gap the crowd.  He settled down a bit and we had quite a gap on the rest of the heat.

It stayed this way until one of the switchback climbs, and he dabbed and had to dismount.  He told me to go ahead, and I told him to follow.  I got to the river, shifted to a low gear and spun my way through the water.  The kid behind decided to run it, and I put a large gap between us.  This side of the river had some climbing for sure, and I spun my way up everything.  Front of the race, there was no traffic and I was feeling surprisingly good.

I finished the first lap in the lead.  The second lap was pretty lonely as well.  I was off the front still, but starting to come across some of the beginners and kids.  I finished this lap off the front too.  I was starting to fade, and notice my lack of endurance catching up to me on lap three.

On the far side of the river, I got passed by a Tom's racer, but I wasn't concerned as he passes me every race and is in a different category.  A couple more riders went by a bit later chasing him.

Without any pressure, I let off the pace a little bit and cruised.  I think this was just a mental excuse because I was tired.  Each lap was ~1 minute slower than the previous.

I crossed the line in first (for my age group) and about 2.5 minutes ahead of second.  I felt pretty good still.  This was my first race win on a geared bike.  Not I am not sure if I have any excuses left now.

Tailwind wrapped things up quickly due to an impending storm (that never arrived) and we took off for home.

It is interesting how a poor Saturday can turn into a decent Sunday.  I am not sure what I did differently between the races, other than relax.  I though I was becoming pretty seasoned at this racing thing, but I still have a lot to learn about myself, and a long way to go training wise.

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