Since it’s Monday here at B-43 (and a Monday after a race), it’s only right that I provide a recap. From the looks of things, it would seem that all is not well. From my braking issues to my lack of stamina during the series, I’m starting to wonder if this “season” will be one to remember (or one to forget.) It’s not off to a stellar start, by any stretch of the imagination. While I may sometimes boast that I am some kind of great mountain bike racer, it’s all in jest, trust me. If you can’t detect my sarcasm or my self-deprecating humor, then shame on you.
Sunday morning started as usual, with me waking up to the not-so pleasant sound of my alarm clock, followed by an impromptu stretching session. I made sure I hit all the major muscles in my legs, and then it was off to a nice hot shower to further loosen my tired and achy muscles. That’s when the strangest thing happened. I guess I reached around to far to wash some hard-to-reach spot, and I felt some intense pain. Little Miss Sunshine heard my groaning, and asked what was wrong. I told her I somehow pulled something in my upper back, and that it hurt like hell. She told me that I should have stretched a little more before I got into the shower. While she may be right, I didn’t think I had to worry about getting injured while I performed my daily cleansing routine. I usually do a quick stretch in the morning when I get up, and get a little more in-depth when I get to the race venue. I had no idea that taking a shower had so much potential for injury. Lesson learned. I will heed her advice from now on before I decide to take a shower. Maybe I should just ride my bike in the tub or something. That would be fun.
I got everything ready, and Lunchbox and I headed out the door. The whole ride there I couldn’t stop thinking about how this newly acquired injury would affect my race, and I wondered if I should even attempt it. Well, poor judgment got the better of me, and I signed up anyway. My legs felt fine, so why the hell should a minor injury keep me from competing? My lack of racing ability would do the job just fine in that aspect.
There were a few changes for yesterday’s race. First, there was a course modification. We wouldn’t be starting in the softball field area, which mean that we would skip the horrible spongy climb in the mud to the start/finish line. I was pretty happy about that. Not so much because of the reduced distance, but more because of the energy-sucking power of that particular climb. Maybe I would fare a little better as the race went on. I doubt it though.
Second, there was no rain. That was the biggest surprise to me. While we’ve had plenty of the wet stuff in the last few days, there was not a drop falling from the sky on this day. I knew the course would be muddy still, but not as bad as it had been the last two races. I kept hearing about how the course was in “great shape”, but that was relative to the two prior events. After I took a practice lap, I learned that there was plenty of mud, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as before. I took my place on the starting line and got ready to go.
"Was I sleeping, or just in a shitload of pain?"
After listening to the pre-race announcements, we were ready to start. I had carefully placed myself in the middle of the pack, hoping to keep my position for most of the race. The plan was to gauge my stamina throughout the race, and make my move when the time felt right. When the signal was given, we all took off.
I didn’t have to take off at a super-fast pace, since the pack sort of eased into it. There was quite a bit of rubbing though, and about two seconds into it, one guy went down. He didn’t crash to bad, and was able to recover quickly. However a few seconds after that, I attempted to pass a cluster of fellow racers and another guy went down. This guy wasn’t so lucky. He hit the pavement hard, and took out a few of the other racers too. While it looked pretty bad, I managed to steer clear of that mess. I made a mental note that I would at least be ahead of one person, even if I sucked the big one. I didn’t think that guy would be able to ride very well, since it looked like he hurt himself pretty bad. I later learned that he taco’d his wheel during the crash, causing him to DNF.
We entered the singletrack, and I stayed with the group. I pushed at a moderate pace, trying to maintain my heart rate so that I would have plenty of giddy-up to attack on the climbs. This strategy actually worked pretty well, since I managed to pass a few people on the fire-road climb back to the parking lot. I passed the start/finish line a little ahead of where I started. Lap one was in the books.
Lap two was a little more of the same, but the pack was spreading out. The leaders were leaving he rest of us, so I decided to pick it up a bit. It was then that I noticed that my rear brake was gone (again), but I had plenty of braking power up front. I decided to make due with what I had, so I cane up with a new strategy. I would do my braking before the banked turns, and let my momentum carry me through them. This would have been a great idea, except that the turns were still a bit sloppy. I leaned in hard on every turn to keep from flying over the top. I pushed up the final climb, up over the rock garden, and made my way up the fire road.
It was then that I noticed that my heart was racing, so I took a lot of deep breaths to calm me down. I continued to shift gears up the climb, which made my heart rate increase even more. As I passed the start/finish line, I saw my racing buddy Patrick in hot pursuit. I motioned for him to pass me as we hit the singletrack again. I tried to stick to his wheel, but I was blowing up again. He said, “Come on, I need you.” I tried to use that as motivation, but he kept slipping away. I could see him up ahead for most of the rest of the race, so I tried like hell to get back to him. Our friendly rivalry wouldn't benefit me at all on this day. I just plain sucked.
As the race went on, I slowly recovered. During my recovery time though, a few of the racers I passed eventually regained their lead over me. I was in the back of the middle of the pack, which didn’t really give me a shot of moving up much. All I could do now was survive (which has become a recurring theme for me.) I did manage to pass someone else, but I never did catch Patrick.
As the race came to a close, I started to feel better. Too little too late, which is the usually the case with me. I really need to figure out some way to peak at the right time. My pathetic race outing netted me a finish of 12th place, which isn’t too bad I guess. I found out that in addition to the crashing guy that didn’t finish, there was another. Two DNF’s probably helped me get to 12th place, but there’s no way to tell. I actually felt pretty good when it was all over, aside from the horrible pain in my back.
As the day went on, the trail conditions seemed to improve. The rest of the day’s races probably had a lot to do with it. The trail was packed in pretty good, even though there were still quite a few muddy spots. We headed out on the trail to capture some action from some of the other races. At the very least, maybe I could learn something. One thing I’ve learned already is that I have a lot to learn.
Here we have my friend (and local XTERRA triathlete) Peter having a romp in the mud:
Here is our local Mountain Bike Geezer, Steve, tearing up the Masters class:
Here’s a guy from the American Classic/Kenda Team hitting the rock garden.
Local pro racer Robert Marion made the Expert Class pretty interesting:
That’s all for today, folks. I have more stuff in the works, but I have a week’s worth of blog to fill. This isn't a race, so I can't blow it up on the first day of the week.