Sunday, July 10, 2011

SERC #9 Huntsville Race Report

Having never been to Monte Sano State Park,  I was uncertain of what to expect.  I had heard that it was technical and rocky; but that was about it.  Both Carly and I were pleasantly surprised at her course:  a mix of pavement and smooth, buff single track.  What rocks?

While Carly and Zeke pre-rode her course, I went off to do mine.  The first few miles were fast and had a few rocks.  I was on my SS, running a 32 x 19.  At first I thought I might have to go bigger.  But then I encountered steep rocky climbs and steep rocky descents.  These rocks were sharp and slick.  And there were enough roots thrown in on top of the rocks to make it really fun.    Whoa, Nelly!  I would call it Pisgah Lite or Syllamo-ish.  There were a couple sections that I rode over and over again, trying to find the best line.  I don't think there was one.  I was wishing I had brought my full suspension bike. (Shoulda, coulda, woulda.)

After the pre-ride Carly and I finished up our day with 3 hours of pool time, while Zeke went back out to get his single speed fix on.  We capped off the evening with dinner at Chili's with Ursula and Jay. 

Race faces on!

Sunday morning came way too early for Carly.  Biscuits with sausage and gravy was her pre-race meal.  Carly had a good race with no bumbling boys to maneuver around and finished strong.

Pavement start.

Totally focused 10 yards up the trail.

My race started out with 1/4 mile of flat road.  My start was good and I was up front for about 1/2 of it.  Then I heard the gears shifting down behind me and I quickly went from 1st to 5th.  I managed to get around Paula when she bobbled in the first techy section (note:  Paula raced the Tn State Championship Road Race the day before) and passed Catherine when it opened up to double track. 

Kym, who won the Tn State Championship Road Race, was flying up front in first place with Gerri hot on her heels ... well, until she flatted.  After moving up to second place halfway through the first lap, I noticed I wasn't feeling all that sparkly.  Heavy legs and breathing way too hard, I knew that I was not on form to finish at this pace.  I backed off the pace and tried to settle, but on this course it is hard to settle.  The climbs are hard on a SS as they come quickly, around corners, and are strewn with rocks and roots.  All of a sudden the 19T felt like an 18T.  I had to run 2 short climbs (10 yards) and 1 long one (40 yards).

I actually looked forward to the final 0.8 mile paved climb as I could establish a rhythm that was not torturous.  And having Jay hand me an ice cold cup of water helped as well. 

The second lap was agonizingly painful.  Even spinning the flats at 120 rpm hurt.  I felt like a pinball in the techy sections.  Dabbing became a constant on that lap.  To top it off, Paula began to close the gap and at one point was only about 10 seconds back.  Although I felt I was at the end of my rope, I was able to dig a little deeper on the climbs and pull away from her.  Finishing never felt so good!

At the finish with a smile ... or is that a grimace?

As much as that race hurt, I would do it all over again.  Because with the pain and suffering comes a HUGE endorphin rush.  You just cannot beat that feeling of utter exhaustion and exhilaration, knowing you left it all out there on the trail.  Why do drugs or alcohol when you can race, I ask?  I friggin' love my bike!


Colleen Wilson-Hodge said...

Glad you liked the Monte Sano trails! What was the course? Does that mean you'll come back? Hopefully we'll be in town next time.

Mandie said...

cool bike!