Sunday, April 8, 2012
Gods Country MTB race...
It's been a while since I have lined up in a MTB race, but the time has come, and gone, once again.
I had this race circled on my schedule to kick off this year of racing in the woods, not for any particular reason other than building fitness. I guess I'm lucky that Mother Nature hates MTB'ers because this race was postponed 2 weeks due to rain.
I planned on going on the original date if it was dry, but that wasn't meant to be...which is good, because it gave more more time to build some more fitness.
The weekend before this melee I head to Lawrence to ride the course and get a feel for the tires I wanted to use, which are hard pack tires with lots of densely packed short knobs, really fast tires if the conditions will allow them...
Confident with what i have learned about the track, and my race day set up, I'm now sort of looking forward to lining up in the woods again. On top of that, the week of riding I had following my inspection had me feeling good about where I am fitness wise. I have to admit, there was a little doubt, considering all of the early season set backs I had and the fact I've been training consistently for a little more than a month and a half as of this post.
That being said, I went into this race with ZERO expectations. It's better that way, at least for me, no matter what time of the year it is, because expectations lead to disappointment which leads to not riding. I learned that lesson a few years ago...it's a tough one to learn and one I won't soon forget.
On to race day...as with all MTB racers, I was watching the forecast closely, and as the weekend approached, the forecast was for rain on race day...imagine that, there's a MTB race and it's going to rain...
Anyway, my bike was ready to for a dry race, and I was hoping this was going to be the case. I woke up on race day only to see the radar has rain all over where I'm gonna be racing...BAH!!! Time to change tires, I knew that something with a more open tread pattern would be the way to go, and I was right.
I get to the venue with the thought of, if I can't warm up and be dry, I'm no gonna race. Fortunately, the rain move out about an hour and 20 minutes before the race was to start...game on!!
Sufficiently warmed up, I decide to race with out the camelbak in favor of my girlfriend handing up bottles each lap. I think it was a good move. Now on the start line, the promoter says the first 3 cat 1 classes will start together, and the final cat 1 class will start 1 minute later. So much for knowing who and how many I'm racing against.
GO!!! The drag race begins, at least a quarter of a mile on the levy into a right hand turn onto some grass and then into the woods. I hit my pedal on the first try and get a good start, I ended up in 5th going into the woods.
About a mile in, I can see the 3 guys at the front of the race riding away, I didn't worry about this, one was a pro and the other 2 are really freakin fast!! Content with who I'm following at the time, I sit there and watch for a chink in the armor...and the only thing I can see was that I was smoother through the turns and about the same on output on the fast sections...so there I stayed. We get about halfway through the 1st lap and 1 of the 50+ racers who is ridiculously fast has latched onto our train and was making quite a racket to get by. Eventually we let him by and he was GONE!!!
The rest of the 1st lap was uneventful. We roll through the start finish area and I have to slow a bit to make sure I grab a bottle from my HOT girlfriend, while doing so the gap between me and my fellow racer grows to about 30 yards...no worries I think.
As we head out for another lap I'm slowly but surely closing the gap. Then the marathon riders start to appear...At this point I closed the gap to about half, he gets by the first rider quickly and I get stuck for a moment, the gap goes out again...Finally past the first one, back to work I go. I start closing the gap again and another marathon rider appears. Once again his opportunity to pass is immediate and I get stuck again and you guessed it...back to the original gap....GRRRRRR!!!!
Finally clear, we are heading into one of the faster sections and the gap stays about the same. We get to the only "technical" section on the course and I manage to close it down a little, but not enough to make contact before the next fast section. At this point I put in several hard efforts to reel him in and it was not to be...these efforts took a bit of a toll...I finally had wave goodbye...
A few miles later I roll through the start/finish area and he has about a minute on me. I press on with a new bottle and the mindset of push on to limit the damage. I had no clue what place I was in and honestly thought I was DFL in my class...so I push on and gut it out.
It's funny, on my second lap, I was NOT hitting my lines and flowing the way I wanted to, but on my 3rd lap I was flowing like water through the same sections I struggled with on lap 2...focus goes a long way in a successful effort!!
About halfway through the last lap it's time for one more power-gel. I reach into my jersey pocket and find my girlfriends keys along with my power-gel...OOOOPS!!! This made me laugh and eased my suffering, if only for a minute. The rest of the lap is spent motivating myself and ending this melee as soon as possible
Finally across the line, I was happy that it was over. I had no clue how I did, it was about this time 2 of my O.G. riding buddies who had come to watch, tell me they think I won...being ate up with the dumbass at this point I brush it of go for a cool down spin.
Finally done with that I gather up my stuff and head back to the car to change. Oh yeah, my girlfriend got a kick out of me handing her keys to her and saying I raced with them in my jersey pocket...good thing they stayed in for the whole ride...
Done changing, my 2 hommies again tell me I won. I still don't believe, until I see the posted results...I had indeed pulled a victory. As I sit here and type this, I still can't believe I won.
If you were to ask me if I was going to step on the podium, I would have laughed and said whatever, if you would've asked me if I was going to win...HELL NO would've been my response!!! I've been on the podium of expert races, but never the top step, it was a great feeling!!!
I had no expectations going into this race, only to do what I can do and let the chips fall where they may. I guess it was my day!! 1st in class and 10th overall. It's a good feeling but also sort of weird, mostly because I didn't know I was in the lead, EVER!!
It was a good day!!