I actually slept most of the night before the race. Yesterday was my b-day, but I did not want any celebration till after the race, so I had my typical pre race meal, Chicken, veggies and brown rice pasta.
Got up at 5:45am downed a Bagel with turkey , a cup of coffee, couple trips to the head and I was off to the race by 6:45am.
Parked my car and came across a bunch of teammates, we registered and got ready to race. Pre race jitters were not bad today, not sure if itís because Iím older or just to tired to get nervous! Did a good warm up and headed to the start line to get a good spot. My first mistake of the day way getting a bad position in the back of the pack. It was almost a minute from the start of my group ( Expert /Proís) till I passed the start line. I passed a bunch of folks that started before me then settled in to my pace for the long climb to the top of the mountain. Iíve done this climb many times and knew exactly what to expectÖto climb for a long timeÖ.about 1 hour at race pace, mostly in the sun.
As I mentioned in previous posts, cramping has always killed my races with the exception of last year when I used Sportlegs. This year I was not going to hold anything back on the climb with the hope that the Sporlegs would hold off the dreaded cramping again for me. I made it to the top of packer saddle about the same time as last year 1:05. After packer saddle your are not even close to being done with the climbing, there is a nice downhill, then a bunch of uphill that can kill your attitude if you do not know they are coming. I traded places with bunch of riders till we finally hit the first section of downhill, the Babyheads. Time to relax and float, look ahead, everything is rideable, just scary, I hate falling, especially on rocks! Some guy with a SRAM jersey goes by me like Iím standing still. I thought I was going pretty fast. No one else passes me and finally the moment of truth arrives, riding through Pauley creek . You ride your legs off on the climb for about an hour then pound them on a rocky downhill, then a nice cold stream crossing, the perfect recipe for cramping! After I get through the stream I feel a minor twinge in the left inner thigh. After spinning the pedals it turns in to a full cramp and it hurts! I try to keep spinning but, my legs will not cooperate. I get off the bike and run and try downing more sportlegs and some Tums. Get back on the bike and I can spin easy for a while then the right inner thigh cramps! FOCK!
I trade of between slow spinning and running to keep going , 10-20 riders pass me. It really sucks to see someone you remember passing on the climb pass 15 minutes later when your hurting on the side of the trail. Finally the cramping stops and I proceed with caution to make sure they do not come back..
By the time I reach the bridge that takes you to the climb to the start of 3rd divide I feel great! There is a long line of riders making the climb and I lock out the front fork , stand up and pass a bunch of them. 3rd divide has to be the fastest single track trail on the planet. You can easily hit 30-40 mph , and on race day you can see almost nothing thanks to all the dust from the riders ahead. I pass a few rides then hit the one brief section of fireroad then on to 1st divide. A couple SS riders slow me down here, finally I get by and go as hard as I can trying to make up for lost time, always telling myself that the rider in front is in my group. I hammer the rest of the trail then the pavement to the finish with a time of 2:25. My goal was 2:20 this year, and with out the dang cramping I think I could of got it, but thatís racing.
I see my friend and teammate Chuck who informs he had the fastest time of any Expert, 2:03!!! Interesting, he was 8 minutes faster then me on the climb and 14 minutes on the downhill. This is the only race I know where you make up so much time by having excellent downhill skills.
One of the great things about this race is what happens when your done. Swim in a nice cool river, east some pasta, and even a free beer and pint glass! Then itís off to watch the crazy folks to the river jumpÖ
Around 5pm the results were finally up and my time was good enough to get my 3rd place in the Expert 45 + group. Itís always nice to get on the podium and even better to go home a bacon cheeseburger after a hard day racing.
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