Saturday, August 7, 2010

Race #44: I found myself somewhere between the trees

My goal for this year's 6 Hours of John Bryan were:
1) Prove to myself that I am getting better as a mountain biker a.k.a. get my lap times down
2) Beat last year's time, even minus the long breaks I took
3) Break that Top Ten (I was 11th last year)
4) Training race for Versailles 12 Hour (This is a big maybe, doubt I have the heart/legs to do it)
6) Tune up "the motor" for cross

But going into this race I have had "bad sensations" in my legs all week. I over trained last weekend, just because I was having fun. Maybe the extreme heat made me dehydrated during these workouts, turning my legs into ripping shreds of beef jerky... You could play the guitar solo to "Misirlou" on my hip flexor tendon — it is so tight!

The race started with a "Le Mans" style start. Even though I typically stink at these I love them because it shuffles up the field pretty well and it doesn't rely upon when you register, how many points you have or how sharp your elbows are:

LAP 1: 0:59:33
Like I said, I had a bad start. But I found Bridget's wheel, I was about 1 rider behind her, and she was doing a great job pacing us through the tight twistys. On the wider access roads she was making killer passes, and I kept finding myself two riders behind her. The second time we did this little pass dance I found myself behind a very slow rider and she was gone. Plus I took this weird slow wrong turn and lost about 6 places!

LAP 2: 0:57:32
So second lap I set out to find my beloved. I ended up riding with this LionHearts kid in the beginning of the lap — that kid was really fast! No slouch! And he was having a blast on the bike, bouncin and bunnyhoppin everything. I eventually found Bridget and we rode together for about 2 laps. We are a great compliment to each other, I follow her wheel on the more technical parts and I get in front and hammer à la Spartacus.

LAP 3: 0:59:17
Jeff Cyrus rode with us for a second — he called us roadies and took off! He was flying! And Gary Lunsford was looking incredible, he was crouched down and pedaling through every turn like a fluid dirt-fueled monster! Unfortunately just after this my impression of a downhill slalom skier went pear-shaped and I was going too fast through a turn, clipped my right handle bar on a sappling which sent my left handlebar into a big tree. I punched the tree with my left hand, flew forward and smashed my left shoulder! Oh well, we got back up and I just tried to ignore the throbbing pain.

PIT STOP: ABOUT 0:06:00ish

LAP 4: 0:59:04
There came a dark point on lap 4. Bridget froze her Camelback and it hadn't thawed, so she was out of water. She stopped at an emergency aid station and I said I would peddle ahead slowly. Well, I didn't see her after a few minutes and my mind kept thinking about my goals. A) Race for myself and try to get 7 laps in or B) continue to pace with Bridget and push her to a podium position? I chose option A after a few more minutes... I'm a heartless bastard.

LAP 5: 0:59:05 & LAP 6 0:59:27
These laps got super hazy. I think I was kind of gassed. I would ride hard, then take it easy through the twistier sections in case I had momentary lapse of judgement and crash again. I was really hoping lap 5 would be faster so I could phone in lap 6 and still make the time cut. Somewhere in here I got passed by the legend Gunnar Shogren, it was kind of having Pete Townshend smash your guitar or Picasso paint over one of your paintings. Demoralizing but BADASS! Eyeing my computer I realized I had to time trial the last 4 or 5 miles of my 6th lap. I barely made it in according to the clock, but I DID IT, onto lap 7!

PIT STOP: ABOUT 0:04:00ish

LAP 7: 0:56:27 (give or take)
I refueled and took off. Something clicked this lap. I got lower on the bike, leaning and pedaling through every turn! I finally got that "surfer's moment" where everything flows and you feel at one with the bike and the trail. I really crushed this lap, and this made the difference. I am glad I just didn't go out there just to do it.

Without knowing it, I pedaled my way onto the first podium of my mountain biking "career!" And I am so happy my parents were there to see it. Super cool! And I crushed my 2009 performance, riding my first 6 laps nearly 25 minutes faster!

2010 Stats
3rd out of 32, 7 Laps, 80.5 Miles, 7:00:25 Total Time, about 6:50 of total riding time, avg 11.78 mph

as compared to 2009 Stats
11th out of 28, 6 Laps, 69 Miles, 6:51:40, Total Time, about 6:10 of total riding time, avg 11.19 mph


  1. James! DUDE!, I have to tell ya, I got the same Gunnar experience right before my lap 7. I also gotta tell ya, I was a little envious of you and Bridget riding along together out there. I almost didnt want to pass and break up the rhythm you two had going on together. You both had a stellar day and I really enjoy racing with you.See ya! Gary

  2. It's always fun to race with you Jimmy!