|Another beautiful weekend for racing!|
I think that this will be the last time I do back to back endurance races. I suppose I forgot the last time (Cohutta 100 and Dirt, Sweat, and Gears 12 Hour in 2008). Well, let me tell you. Last weekend brought those memories back ... quickly and painfully.
I was racing my single speed as this was the perfect course for one gear (minus the start on the campground road). I was able to get a good starting position, 2nd row. However, I was soon moving backwards as dozens passed me on the flat portion of the campground loop. After what seemed like an eternity, the road turned up. At last, I could start to make up some lost ground. My legs begged to differ and went on strike. Apparently there was some lingering Ouachita Challenge fatigue that decided to rear its ugly head.
All I could do was settle into a sustainable rhythm and hope that they would come around. The trains of racers on the first lap kept a governor on my engine and kept me from "going Greyhound." After the first lap, which was 2 miles longer due to the parade lap, my legs came to life. I became reacquainted with all 2,346 berms and felt the flow of this awesome trail.
For those of you who are not familiar with this trail, it is 12.5 miles of fast hardpack with huge berms to help you carry your momentum through the turns (think pump track). There are a few short rock gardens to keep you honest. There is about 1000 feet of climbing per lap, nothing longer than 0.1 miles. The downside to that is that you are constantly on the gas!
|Even the bridges are contoured!|
After the first lap, I began to slowly pull away from the women. The field was stacked this year, with several contenders that pushed me to the very end. My lap times were pretty consistent, all within 1-2 minutes of each other.
Lap 2: I rode the chicane so fast that as I crested the short hill at the end, I experienced vertigo. Zeke, I feel for ya! Dizziness + trail riding at speed = disaster potential.
Lap 3: A solo male racer rode behind me for awhile. As he passed, he said that he enjoyed reading my blog. Cool!
Lap 4: Just a couple minutes off the previous laps due to two reasons. #1: I attempted to guzzle an 8 ounce Red Bull. Hmmm ... how much caffeine can be absorbed by lung tissue? #2: With 2 miles to go, I heard the dreaded "Psssssss." And then I saw Stan's on my knee! Miraculously, the puncture sealed before I could get my bike stopped. I immediately went in to the "Oh, crap!" mode. With only minimal tire pressure lost and not finding the puncture, I motored on, thinking that at any time, the Stan's would let go and the tire would go flat. I began weighing my options the final two miles: plug it, throw a tube in, change bikes, change wheels. The last two miles took FOREVER! Stopping at my pit, I checked my tire. The Stan's was doing its job! Wow! This was a first for me in all my years of racing. Now what do I do? Continue on or change bikes? I decided to stay on my Niner A9C and go for it. If it was going to go flat, it would not be from that puncture 2 miles ago. Even so, I rode like a nervous bunny for the next few miles. Hop ... hop ... sniff ... sniff. With 8 miles to go on that final lap, I brought it back up to race pace.
I crossed the finish line at 5:56 with 5 laps, winning the women's open. Once again, the podium schwag was in great quantity and high quality. The best thing was the mug.
I must commend BMCC. They are trail building/maintaining fiends! Even though it rained 1- 1/2 inches 36 hours before the race, the trail was completely dry and tacky! Volunteers were actually out there the day before raking leaves off the trail. Unbelievable!
Congrats to Ursula for winning what she calls the "Old Ladies Category." Whatever! She also finished with 5 laps.
Thank goodness this is a rest week.