Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 January Mountain Bike Marathon

So here is the format.  Ride one lap through Governor's Creek (~5-6 miles), then hit the road (mostly gravel/dirt w/ paved connectors) for over ~31 miles, then back for one more lap of Governor's Creek.

Unfortunately, I had only been on one mtb ride in 13 days.  It showed (I have more excuses, but will save them for later).  I geared my bike with a 42x21 ratio (geared for the road) and off I went.  Inspite of starting at the bottom of a hill ~1/4 mile before the single track, the bottleneck trail of bikers was long and thick.  I found myself too far in the back and was stuck with a bunch of guys that were only going to slow me down, but this early in the race, I did not care.  A few guys made efforts to pass, which I found comical considering how crowded it was.  As two guys tried to squeeze past I gave them room and when they said "thanks" I simply said, "I'll catch you later." And I meant it.  It was funny when things finally stared clearing out, I came up on one guy who was walking his bike in the middle of the trail and as I approached, he made no effort to move, he just said, "Go ahead", I shouted, "Go where?" as I rode off the trail and had to dismount to avoid a wreck. "Oh, sorry dude."  "Yeah, well screw you, you trail hogging son of a ...." is what I wanted to say, but instead I said, "No harm done" as I ran my bike past him, and was on my way.
The 'road' portion of the ride.
Exited the woods and hit the pavement with a couple gearies, and we pace lined to the first dirt road.  Unfortunately my odometer was not working (turned out my sensor had slid down my fork), so I had no idea of our speed, but we were moving.  Eventually caught an old Irishman on a SS and he joined in for a few minutes before pulling away.  I moved with him and off we went.  He said that it was nice to leave those geared riders behind.  I said, yeah, unless they catch us.  He assured me they would not (he was right) and off we went.  I lead him onto the next road section and started to pull away before I heard a yell.  I turned back to see him turning right onto a gravel road. Doh!  I turned around and finally caught him.  We continued to ride together at a solid pace, picking off some riders and picking up others, until we came across a group of ~5 riders (including my buddy Steve Rodgers).  Funny, but at the starting line I pointed at Steve and said, "I'm gunning for you Rogers", now I literally was.  He and his group picked up the pace and so we two SS'ers joined the pace line.  This all went well until one of the last big climbs on the 2nd to last gravel road.  As we started going up, (as always happens on a climb) the pace line started breaking up.  I knew this was the moment to go for it.  Though my legs were screaming, I started doing the Contador Dance up the hill and dropped everybody.  I kept pushing, wondering when the peleton was going to regroup and close the distance.  I kept pushing.  Eventually I started looking back.  I could see no body.  Oops, I missed another turn!  It was the last turn onto the last set of dirt road that would eventually lead straight back to the trail.  I fought up the initial small ascent and started feeling cramping in the legs.  Dang it!  I kept pushing, but my left leg was starting to cramp, so I had to ease off.  I knew I was slowing down.  I looked back again and saw my SS brothers red and black jersey in the distance.  He was gaining on me.  By the time I reached the hill at the start, he was upon me.  As I entered the single track, I knew this is where the 42x21 gearing would hurt.  Still, I pushed through and passed a few people.  Some who passed me back after I cramped and had to dismount.  Three times I had to dismount a walk a short section due to cramping in my left leg, and three other times I dismounted on a short accent just to avoid a sure cramp.  Still, I passed more than passed me, and kicked it in near the finish to take another rider before the tape.
Two years ago, in muddy conditions, on my 26" single speed (with 44x19 gearing) I won the SS division.  This year, I was 6th (one place behind the same SSer I rode most of the race with).  6th was also DFL for SS'ers (62nd out of 106). The difference was that there was a VERY strong field this year (including SSer extraordinaire Kelly Klett, whom I talked into the race the day before).  Funny, but I always seem to do better in the races without a strong field, hmm.
Anyway, I cannot brag about the result, but I am proud of the effort, and surprised considering how few miles I have ridden this month (fewest in nearly 2 years). Also, I have dropped ~5 solid lbs over the month of January (thanks to a healthier diet), so as I increase my miles and decrease my weight, I will be on track to be where I need to be for the important races: PMBAR and Burn24.  What makes them so important?  I am on a team and cannot let down my team mate.
Now stop reading this, put down your beer, and go plan a ride!

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