The noon start was nice as I could travel down the day of, but how to handle pre race nutrition took some pondering. I ultimately decided to just eat my breakfast 3 1/2 hours prior and so loaded up with Christopher Bean Coffee when my internal alarm clock went off at 6 am. That worked well as the pre race jitters held off the lunch time hunger monster.
I used this race to test my bike and nutrition set up. I decided to go with gears as the Big Frog 65 is just 2 weeks away. I was also eager to see if my Niner RKT would handle any different/better than my Jet 9 RDO. I had not raced her since The Snake and had made some minor adjustments since then. I was also trying out some new nutrition, Torq energy drink and gels. I had been using these during rides, but had yet to try them out at race pace.
The race was 2 laps of the entire trail system, about 30 miles with 2800 feet of climbing. Weather was perfect, in the 60's and dry. This was a low key race for me, but I still was conerned with my performance, as my legs were a little tired from the week of training.
I had a good start and went into the woods in the top 10. No sooner had I started the first climb on the Van Michael Trail (VMT) when a bug flew into my mouth and down my trachea. Not exactly what I needed, but after several deep coughs, I was able to dislodge the little fu*ker. It took me a couple miles to get my wind back and in the meantime I was passed by several. The VMT has the best flow and I tried to recover on the descents. I was happy to see flat ground again as I exited VMT and hit the connector to the Dwelling Loop.
I had my mojo back and made short work of Dwelling. Upon entering South Loop, I slowly bridged to Mr. Polka Dot. I call him that because what I remember of his jersey was a white base with dark dots. As I got closer and closer, I began hearing this noise emanating from his bike. I couldn't quite place the source, but it sounded like a bartender shaking a coctail mixer.
When I finally got on his wheel, I could tell that the sound was coming from his saddlebag. He definitely had way more bag than necessary. And the noise! After 5 minutes I could not take it anymore. But my legs were heavy and I just did not have the power to pass. Finally, on the short steep rocky climb, he bumbled and I was able to make the pass. Once the trail leveled out, I tried to break away, but he was able to hook back on. OMG THE NOISE! I took in some more gel, hoping my legs would get the energy needed to break away from him. But oh, no! He managed to stay right there with me. We came through the start/finish together and began lap 2. By now I had been listening to his bag for 10 minutes or so.
I so wanted to tell him about the awesomeness of Backcountry Research's Race Strap, but mostly I just wanted the torture to stop. It took the WHOLE VMT to finally drop him. Now the only sound I heard was the whirrr of my I-9 hub ... as it should be. Now that peace had returned, I started laughing about the whole ordeal.
Soon after I entered Dwelling, my lower back began to ache. This was surprising since I was on my geared bike; it usually only happens on my SS and only when racing for 5 hours or longer. It definitely affected my power output. I found myself standing and stretching on several of the descents.
The South Loop was a blur, not because I was going fast, but because I just wanted to be done. My back was jacked and it was not fun anymore. For me, this trail was the most difficult because if it was not tight and twisty, it was rocky and rooty ... hard to find flow.
I finally smelled the barn when I hit Mosquito Flats. A few minutes later, I rolled across the finish in 2:39, not quite the time I was looking for, but good enough for the W.
I must commend Lisa and Kathleen for the BEST COURSE MARKINGS EVER! Hi vis pink, at eye level, and plenty of confirmatory flagging beyond each and every turn. Never once did I have to scrub speed and wonder.
|Sharing the podium with the lady who inspired me to do downhill faster, BA Loretta!|