Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Battle for Oak Mountain 6 Hour Race Report

Last SS race aboard Karma, my Niner A9C.

Kenny sure did save the best for last in this Chainbuster Series finale.  This course had a little bit of everything, from tight, twisty, and rooty Mr. Toad's to the short, grunty technical climbs of Johnson's Mountain to the long grind up to Blood Rock to the boulder fest of Jeckyll and finally the flowy descent of Hyde.  Gear choice was hard for me.  I made the decision to suffer with a cartoon-style spin on the descents and pavement so that I could more easily grind up the climbs.

Although the course was my favorite for the season, I HATED the start.  A never ending mile of road left had me going nowhere fast with a cadence > 120.  I watched as it seemed like the whole field passed me by.    The first lap was more of a group ride than a race.  Even though a mile of single track had been bypassed the first lap, this one was still  my slowest lap.  A lot of walking!  Luckily, my feet were quite happy in my custom orthotics.

I saw my foot specialist earlier in the week.  After 6 weeks in the orthotics, both she and I felt as if my nerves were finally beginning to heal.  Dr. Pesut said that I was probably looking at another 18 months before the healing was complete ... if that is possible.

My cooler of high octane fuel in the lower right corner

It was a warm feeling each and every lap to pull into the NWGA SORBA/Super Sport pit area.  A wonderful group of people who welcomed me with open arms.  Not having to secure a pit area, set up, and take down allowed me to save that energy for race day and for that I will be forever grateful.

Lap 2 was my hardest.  Even though I was faster my legs still felt sluggish and asleep.  I think it had something to do with "spinning my brains out" on the first lap.  Perhaps that is harder on the engine than I thought.

On lap 3 my body finally woke up and I was able to thoroughly enjoy the trail.  The funnest sections for me were the Johnson's Mountain descents where you could just let it go, minimal braking required, and the rock gardens of Jeckyll and Hyde.  Yes, there was a flow to this section, if you could find it.  And find it, I did.  The lines were not between the rocks, but rather over them.  I saw a lot of slow speed crashes here and fortunately I was able to keep the bike rubber side down.

On the middle portion of Hyde, I came upon Zeke and another person helping a fellow racer out of the woods.  Zeke always seems to be just in the right place at the right time.  I can't count the number of times he has helped out in these situations.  He is to be commended.  Secretly, I think he did not want to hurt the younger single speeders' egos.  Zeke is the ultimate "trail angel!"

On lap 4 I hooked up with Thomas Russell, TNGA finisher, and rising endurance star.  We were able to help each other push it just a little bit harder.  Having him to ride with as compared to being out there in "no man's land," kept me from getting lackadaisical.

Before heading out on lap 5, I had Jay hand me my "wings."  After chugging my Red Bull, I was off for another lap of happiness.   That is one thing I will remember about this race ... I was smilin' the whole way:  a testament to the beautiful day, awesome course, and finally feeling like a dedicated racer ought to.

My goal for lap 6 was to keep up my "cleaning" streak on the Johnson Mountain step ups and the Jekyll.  With no traffic, some groaning, and damned determination, I made it without a dab.  Of course, I thought my thigh muscles were going to be ripped off their bony attachments, and I had to ride at a turtle's pace until my breathing recovered, but I had achieved my goal.  And yep, the smile was still there.

I rolled across the finsh line in first with 6 laps in 5:37:29.  Even though each lap had a life of its own and felt different, I was pretty consistent.  Save for my fastest lap of 54:43, all the other laps were 56 minutes and some change.

With this win, I clinched the series win and a new mattress!  Perfect.  Last year, after 15 years of service mine had given up the ghost.  But just when I had decided to buy a new one, my HVAC died, so my lumpy mattress was put on the backburner.  Thank you Invigo for sponsoring this series!

Rest is just as important as fitness.

And so, my season ends on a good note.  2010 and 2011 did not have good endings.  My feet are on the mend and my GI tract is on a 4 month happy streak.  I look forward to what 2013 brings.

Charlie was disappointed it was empty :(

Fellow lady racers, just wanted to give you a head's up.  There is this little gal, probably 90 pounds soaking wet, who is young, yet full of talent and determination.  Be on the look out as she is a rising phenom.  Her name is Rachel Millsop ... you have been warned.

No comments: