Saturday, August 6, 2011

Races #84 & 85: Cat 1 Upgrade with Cat 6 Skills

Cool news, someone at USA Cycling likes me and upgraded my XC license to a Cat 1 Expert. Sweet.

Race #78: Ver-Sales, Is that how you say it?
I love Versailles. We have ridden there more than any other trail this year, it was much drier than East Fork so it was our second home court this year.

But I could not wake up that morning! I think I had some kind of groggy allergy attack, and we barely made it to the race on time. So no warm up and I am now one of the most crowded starting lines in my short XC career. DINO does a great job of promoting a great series with a pretty large turnout, and a very competitive Pro and Elite field.

My start was pretty decent. The only problem was that I still wasn't awake for 3/4 of the first lap. I couldn't corner the bike or react to anything quickly. So I went backwards! Finally I woke up and teammate Karwash let me ride his wheel for awhile. He pretty much taught me how to ride a bike again.

So I just tried to start picking off riders on the second and third laps. My fitness was pretty decent and I wasn't overheating too bad. I was better than last year and half the sport racers DID NOT pass me. Awesome! Actually I was still waaaaay faster than last year, I knocked 13 minutes off my time! That feels good. I like progress — I'm still not a perfect bike-handler but I am getting much better. Teammates Foxy came in just ahead of me and Karwash just behind,

Race #79: Battle on Mount Mother
Whoa, another race from yesteryear! I haven't seen a XC race at Harbin Park since the early 2000s. Brings back memories of being a tubby lad cheering on my girlfriend as she disappeared into the woods for awhile.

This was a smaller "local" race and I was really hoping for a podium. Sometimes success is an angry monkey that won't get off your back until it sucks all the fun out of everything. Now I just can't be happy to finish a race without going home in an ambulance — I have to podium?! Ugh. Well I did my best. The race got off to a pretty fast start. Stephen Huddle was revvin his engine, all full of piss and vinegar after finishing his time trial from Canada to Mexico. Marty was just behind and I got third into the woods. Suddenly Stephen had a mechanical and pulled off and I was second, with Brent and teammate Matt Fox on my wheel. I was trying really hard to keep Marty in sight but I must have blown up a little and crashed when my brain ran out of oxygen.

So I got back up and chased. I caught Brent and Foxy at the end of the first lap and attacked to get back into second place. I went to reach down for my bottles and guess what? They're gone — I guess they were too scared to hitch a ride with me after the crash.

So on lap 2 I stopped where I crashed and looked for my bottles. Brent attacked and Foxy passed. Back in fourth place again. I could only find one bottle and it was hot out. Luckily Bridget threw a cooler next to the start/finish line. So at the beginning of lap 3 I stopped to fill my bottle. Curses! I was losing time.

So I saw Foxy in the woods ahead of me. I counted from where he passed until I got there... 70 seconds. That's a lot to make up. So I buckled down and told myself that I do the Time Trials here all the time — I gotta do a TT lap. So I did. I gunned it, my riding was smooth. I knew where to exert myself and where to recover. I caught Foxy near the end of the lap. I felt awesome.

He mentioned Brent was ahead and I should go get him. I could do 2 things here: 1) Ride like a Hero and See if I can Epicly Pull in Second Place or 2) Ride conservative and try to poach Foxy at the line for my precious podium. I always go for option 1. The sky is the limit right?

So I kept gunning it. And Foxy stayed with me. Unfortunately I think I "burned too many matches" earlier in the race and I was running out of steam. So just before Mt Mother I pulled aside and let Matt pass because I knew he had it and I was a pedaling pile of dookie. I could have been a jerk and held my spot, but I was done and I feared a strong rider coming from behind and knocking BioWheels completely off the podium. Good thing I let him pass, I barely made it up the hill and I felt a touch of a cramp coming on.

So the epic finish. I had to claw back another deficit. And I did. I caught Foxy on that long technical climb at the end of the lap. But Foxy showed his class and years of skill as a rider and gained about 10 seconds on a descent. The end of the race was a like a Classic Roubaix or a Cyclocross race. We were sprinting the last third of a mile. It was bad-ass! I couldn't pull him in and he got third, but the crowd got some excitement! Mountain bike races are rarely that close. After feeling a smidge burned out on riding that week, it felt great to have adrenaline coursing through my veins and to be part of an epic duel.

It was nice to see Foxy up there and Marty was back on the top step! Sweet.

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