October 25, 2003
So, I'm sitting at 5th place in points. Not bad! What will today bring?
We were again at Cahoon park. After last weekend, I'm feeling pretty confident. I am concerned about the competition, more than my ability. If the really fast guys that were not here last weekend show, I'll be back to my original place...
I don't know why, I didn't expect another course change. However, they took the creek crossing and run up out, and replaced it with a ridable hill that went to the upper level, then across the first set of barriers before hitting a sidewalk section. After the sidewalk, we hit a set of uphill (!) barriers to take us to the start finish level.
Again I was on my own this weekend. Vitor and Luci came along, but they hit the playground for the duration of the race.
I was hoping I'd feel better than last weekend and actually improve my finish... it's a thought. I went around the pre-ride easy, and again worked out the clothing thing. I was already pretty warm, so I didn't do the jacket. But I did try to pre-hydrate again. I also through a gu bottle with some accelerade in my pocket. Just a little to help out before the finish.
I had also put on some new tires... Michelin Mud 2's. Since the course has been so wet, and it called for rain in the morning... and my old tires were pretty worn down... why not.
Lot's of riders this week. There are 4 women, instead of 1, which did a good job of making it look like a bigger field. There were some guys there that beat me on the first race that didn't show for the second... so I was hoping to again be in the top 10.
I felt good as we took off. I was in about 6 or 7th again as we hit the field the first time. My plan was again push the first lap, settle in for the duration, then pick it up progressively through the last 2 or 3 laps.
Normal craziness on the first lap. Only this time it was me. We come off the sledding hill, and cross the mud bogged field. Then take a right up a short steep rise before going up a ridable paved walkway. At the turn, right after the rise, I started to slid out. I saved it with a dab, and then tried to get the bike moving again. Nothing doing... the gears I have would not turn over on that hill. I hopped off, and tried to get it with a running start... nothing. I think I tried to get back on the bike three times before I just ran the thing up the hill and jumped on there.
In that time, at least 3 guys passed me, including the guy that I was toying with in the last race. After the initial panic/swearing had subsided (it only lasted until I was back on the bike), I was resigned to trying to pick up my places again. It seems my racing is always let the group go, then pick off riders that went too hard at the start. On the field on the second lap, I counted 14 guys in front of me... ugh.
Where last week was smooth, this week was ugly. There were only two sets of barriers, one set before the sidewalk section, and one after. I missed a remount getting on the sidewalk.... that hurts. I also had the worst time with the uphill barriers. I should have dismounted before the hill and shouldered the bike over them... ah hindsight.
So the strategy now was to make up time all over the course, then loose it on the ridable hill and the uphill barriers. The ground before the walkway pavement was wet, and leaf covered. It was a challenge to keep the rear wheel connected. Then, when I hit the pavement, the wheel was still slimy, so I was still working the bike gingerly up that section.
In the previous races, I had used the sled hill decent for recovery. This time I started pushing the pedals to gain more speed there. It worked out pretty well. I also started to pedal through the mud bog sections. It seemed to help get through by maintaining more of my momentum.
After the second lap, I started to get hot. I pushed down the arm warmers and rode a lap like that, hoping to hold them in case of rain. On the way by the finish on the third lap, I decided to just get rid of them... I was way to warm, and would deal with rain if it came. It managed to hold of, with only minor sky moisture on the last lap.
The gu bottle worked out pretty well. It holds about 6 oz of liquid... just enough to swig down a couple of laps from the end... Next time I'll take it out so I can drop it as I go by the start finish.
I was watching this guy behind me as we came up to the start finish line near 32 minutes. He decides to come around me between the 2 turns before the finish. I let him by and hopped on his wheel. As we pass the line, the guy is told he's got one more lap. He's racing C, and just sprinted to beat me... oops. I tell him I'm racing B, and encourage him to finish his lap strong. I'm hoping to get some help picking up some riders. Turns out he's riding slower than I want for this lap, so I leave him on a pavement section. He may be trouble next time, when he races B. He start 3 minutes after the B race and still caught me. He was on a mountain bike though... so he had the gears to ride most everything. And he did get around me again for his finish.
Again, I was pushing through the laps close to the end. I went through at 38 minutes, and tried to increase the pace, so I'd beat 45 minutes. The race is supposed to be 45 minutes +1 lap. The next time I went through was at 45 on the nose.... OK, 2 more laps.
There were at least 2 guys up front that I wanted to catch. I'd beaten them both last week, and I knew I could get at least one of them. I was closing on him on the second last lap, and was getting ready for the big push on the last lap. As I came across the up hill barriers. Some one shouts 1 more lap... which I knew.
Then as I head toward the hairpin, someone says Finish strong this is it. What?!? I've got one more lap! So I jump on it here. there isn't enough space to catch the guy as he's also jumped, and was able to before I figured out what was happening.
I came across the line quite pissed off... at both the way the finish worked out, and at my performance.
I checked the time sheet that they write in as riders cross the line and counted the riders that came in front of me and came up with 15th place. (I forgot about the 4 C racers). My mood lifted when I checked the results and found I was in 9th. I could deal with that.... then I looked again later to check time gaps and had been moved up to 8th! Alright... but wait! I knew every rider that was in front of me... something didn't seem right. Then I counted again (in my head) and there was no way I was 8th, 9th maybe but I counted 8 guys in front of me!
The results were posted on the site, and looking over them it looked like quite a few riders got credited for 6 laps instead of 7. I wrote a mail to one of the team members detailing what I thought happened, and they said they were checking into it... final tally... 11th out of 19 male.
There were at least 3 guys that I should have beaten. I really blame my equipment mostly for my result... It's a cool bike to have a single 42 chain ring, but these courses are right at the edge of making it practical. The word on the next course is it has more terrain... so I'm either going to run a single 39, or put the 53/39 back on... maybe I'll pick up a 48 and run that... something has to change. I've had trouble with gears on the 2 of the 4 races I've done. Since I can't build the legs in time for the rest of the races...
I was also pretty upset about the handling of the finish. Everyone except for the guy officiating thought we had one lap to go. Hopefully, they make it much clearer when we're on the last lap at the remaining races. I intend to bring it up at the pre-race if it isn't mentioned.
The good news is I've still got 5th place on points... not by much (1 point), but it's mine for another week... I'd like to lock that up... even if I don't move up, I'd be happy with 5th on points on December 7th.
The results have been updated, I ended up in 11th place. Which is much more believable. I'm still at 5th in the points standings by 1 point. Well, there is room for improvement.