Yesterday was the Stony Creek Marathon. 5 laps, ~50 miles of single and double track. This race is typically held in July, or at least it has been the last couple/few years when I have participated. This year it was moved to May, so the temperature wouldn't be 90+ degrees. I haven't done well at this event in the past, with my only DNF occurring here.
This race has been marked on my calendar for a while. Typically it was worth bonus points, but this year that was not the case. 4 hours and 50 miles is worth exactly the same as 80 minutes. Even so, I have never done well here, and wanted to put on my best effort.
We arrived shortly before 9 am, and the Motor Club was already set up. All I had to do was check-in, prep the bike, and change. So it was time to warm up, and I wanted to make sure the legs were spun out a bit, but not too much as I knew there was a long race ahead.
It was a small group at the start, 8 of us in the 30-39. The 3 usual suspects, Anthony, with special appearances from Cerget and Pongopantz. It appeared that a top 10 finish was in store, assuming that I finished.
Most of us lined up across the front row, and when it was time to go we lined up rather smoothly. We hit the first climb and when we made the left into the woods for the first time, I was 4th wheel behind Lako (obviously), Cerget, and Osgood. We stayed in this order through the first section of flats. On one of the early 2-track climbs I went around Osgood and was next to Cerget, but the bottom of the hill was a loose right-hander and I couldn't complete the pass on Cerget.
I just tried to keep up through the singletrack with the leaders, and close up when I could. Near the end of the lap we were mobbed by about 6 others from various groups, and things were kind of a mess going into the final climb, Three Gear Hill. At the top it was Lako, Myself and Anthony. [What happened over 5 laps is hard to recall, this may have been lap 2, I dunno.]
Lap 2 was more of the same. I think we were still mixed in with some other riders. At the top of a climb I went to the front due to the urging of Lako and put in a small effort leading into the singletrack. It must not have been fast enough, as Brad soon went around me and as I took a look around, it was just him, Anthony and I. [This could have been lap 3].
Assuming that the previous events were in lap 2, then lap 3 was non-monumental. I recall this is the lap that things started to break down for me. I could feel the fatigue creeping into my legs, and see the elastic begin to stretch out more.
Lap 4 and Lako relegated the lead to Anthony for a while. Those two began to pull away from me, and I began to do some damage control to retain my 3rd place standing. I caught Kenny at this point, shortly after the switchback climb. He said he wasn't feeling good, and was starting to cramp.
On the 2-track speed section heading to the finish, I came across Brad who was in the process of slowly dismounting his bike. I asked if he was OK, but received no response. I assumed it was cramps, like other riders I have seen pulled off. I have was experiencing some slight twinges in my hamstrings, but figured I only needed one more lap.
Coming through the Start/Finish area, I say Anthony ahead of me going across the line as I was coming off the loop. 10 miles to go, I was trying to close now. I finally made contact at the Rock Garden. We rode together again through the rest of the section. On the climb on the back side I went around and put in an effort on the downhill, but he hung on. I was starting to see how this was going to come down at the end.
|Roger Anthony coming out of the woods.|
I stayed ahead, then during a climb with a sandy switchback, I lost traction and had to dab. As soon as my toe toughed the ground my calf seized up and i couldn't clip back in. Anthony went back around, and once again I had to claw my way back on.
It was just the two of us coming out of the last singletrack, headed to the finish. He was in the lead, but losing steam. I didn't want to go in front, but I didn't want to play games and let the others catch up. So I went to the front, and he stayed right on my wheel. Based on my previous experience, I didn't want this to come down to a sprint. On the steepest part of the 3-gear climb I put in my last effort and accelerated up the hill, weaving around walkers and granny-gear spinners.
I had no idea where he was at this point, I was just trying to make it through the finish. Down the hill I hammered out into the open, looped around the pavement, hit the grassy 180 and was working to the finish chute. I didn't see Anthony around. I made it.
|Powering through the finish.|
As I crossed the Finish line, I was actually unsure if I was done. My lap counter had flipped to 5, but in my delirium, I wasn't sure if that was indicating the start or conclusion of the 5th lap. I soft-pedaled up the trail, waiting to see if anybody else was coming through. I then checked my mileage, and with 51 miles I concluded that I was done. I cooled down and pedaled back to camp.
|Done, right? Thank Todd!|
Brain and Ken were already back there relaxing. As soon as I got off the bike my calf cramped again, then my hamstring. It felt like my muscles were giving birth. A short while later Aryn came across the line.
|A-Rod looking good!|
|Nom nom nom...|
|Brain coming through.|
I turned out to be a decent day, my first win in Expert. I finished the race a full 40 minutes faster than last year;s time as well. Quite an improvement. Ken got to step on the podium with a 3rd place. Brian dropped due to a medical issue, but Aryn made it through unscathed and brought his family..
|Top step, and no bunny ears!|
|Nice work Kenny!|
Congrats to T-Payne for killing it in the SS division, Johnny Osgood for getting on the steps, Lako for rebounding and making podium, and Marc Ghirardelli for his Sport SS medal.
|Everybody love Marc...|
And I am also thankful for those men and women who gave all to protect our country, and provide me the opportunity to sit on the couch all day today and recover.