We make holes in teeth!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Race Weekend

In every race I have ever done there has come a point in the race where I declare, usually in a good amount of agony, "I'm never doing another stupid race again."

Until yesterday.

Let's start from the top, which isn't what those of you with short attention spans will want but you can skip to the bottom if you wish. The weekend didn't start with flying colors as I slept poorly Friday night and struggled to wake up Saturday morning. My 50 mile ride plan went on a diet and came out as my lean and sexy 38+ mile loop in reverse which I started around 7:00.

I shot out of the gate which often worries me because a) I should need to warm up, and b) it probably means I'm going to have pacing problems later. Well I tried to take it easy but inside of 20 minutes I was up and over a 17 average and by the time I got to Far Hills 9 miles away I was at 18. I kept at it and took what I had until the 1:15 mark when I was up at 18.4 for the ride.

"What am I doing?" I asked myself, literally out loud. Does this make sense to keep banging this out for the whole ride? I backed off for the last 50+ minutes and dropped down a bit and ended with a 17.9. Ride link here:

The idea was to go out and get a fair distance ride and throw in some hard efforts but not go crazy. For the most part I accomplished that only because I came to my senses at the right time and toned it down. My high-end was off, without question. Steady climbing and tempo were really on though.

The rest of the day was proper nutrition, proper hydration, and not overdoing it with yard work or anything that would just tire me out. Overall that plan went fine.

All that was left was the race. Now I have to admit I knew what the course was going to be this year. I had gotten my hands on a race map and I knew that a) the course was run in reverse, b) it was shorter by probably 3 minutes, and c) there was actually a tiny bit of connecting trail being used that I may have ridden once but that I was unfamiliar with. All in all I thought it was a good change because it took out the toughest climbs and made the nasty rooty downhill a climb instead. The same general rule of a negative split still applied though.

Race day was just normal wake up, blah blah blah. I think something happened with this particular race such that I no longer get juiced up and nervous for these things. I slept well, didn't really think about the race at all the day before and didn't lay in bed thinking about it either.

I think my morning ritual needs some fine tuning, though I hesitate to use the word "ritual" when it's just a training race. I did my toast, eggs, and cheese breakfast and drank enough water but not crazy amounts. Felt fine but not amazing. Got there too early and had a banana, some water, and chugged some instant breakfast before the race.

I did 15 minutes of trail to warm-up then spun around a little more. Given that this was going to be a 2 hour race I didn't want to put too much into it because that's a lot of time to make up lost ground early on but also a lot of trail to string yourself out on. So played it conservative all around as my helpful readers suggested last week.

Lined up with Jake, and we continued to bullshit until it was our turn to go. The horn sounds and I turn what I would call a warm pace into the start. Within 15 seconds I am passed by probably 25 people if not more. These guys come absolutely zooming out of the box which, given the nature of the course, is pretty fucking stupid if you ask me.

We go up yellow, then up orange, then down and up orange again. This levels off and then we start to climb purple. No matter the direction the course goes up more on the first half. On the purple trail I start picking them off, not one by one but like 5 at a time. I'm totally in my own race at this point. I don't pass people because they're there, I pass them because my pace is just faster. And of course some of them have blown up already.

First lap went well to that point. The start of these races always uses more energy because you have to navigate through the guys who really don't ride well. So you simply use more energy doing the same pace. I should have kept this in mind but I didn't, and on the back 2 miles of the course I sort of let it eat me a little bit. I was gummed up behind maybe 5 guys and these morons were riding their brakes on all the downhills scrubbing away speed for no good reason. So at the very end, at the hairpin turn before the wooden bridge, I passed the lot of them as well as a handful in front of them. Major power move to blow past them and then a few more guys ahead of them. A few guys followed me there.

Well this was stupid. I came across lap 1 at maybe 36:30 a bit winded and started on the climbs again. Some of the guys had repassed me on the fire road and when I hit the second part of orange I knew I had to dial it back on this lap or I could be in trouble. As I went up switchback it was painful and I wondered how the hell I was going to climb that thing again a third time.

In all the second lap was pretty uneventful. I ended up going back and forth with a group of maybe 4 guys on the second half. We kept passing each other and ended the lap with them out ahead of me. I didn't want to make the same mistake as lap 1 so I took it easier. Lap 2 I was at 1:14, pulling 37 minute laps for the race.

The third lap I let it just come to me. I passed the group of 4 guys on the purple climb for the last time, never to be seen again. They had collectively gotten caught up with each other and were all blowing up in unison. When I passed them they were probably going about 3. After that I was basically solo for the next 3 miles until I caught up with a Marty's team guy who was stopped on the last steep climb. He clipped in before me and I followed him up the hill. At the top I passed him, my last kill of the day.

Or was it?

Being a local team guy he must have known the course and of course I know the course also. He jumped on my wheel and tried to follow me down the steep descent. I could hear him back there but I had opened a gap fast. The rollers hurt so I took it easy to leave enough for the last mile. He was back there and trying to catch me, but there was no way in hell I was going to let him catch me.

I bombed down the end of yellow to the bridge where I had made my mistake passing before. In general I think it's a waste to look back because it only slows you down but I glanced sideways as the trail turned 90 degrees then 90 again. I saw him back there not that close but not totally dead yet either. I ran the rollers aggressively and dumped out on the fire road, where I gave everything I had in an effort to gap him as much as I could.

It worked, and when I crossed the finish line and stopped pedaling I cramped up. The balls-to-the-wall ending left my legs shot and they did exactly their job then said, "Fuck you we're done." Fair deal, you guys did well this day.

So there it is. I like it. The bike did well but again it's not a race bike as it's far too heavy. I ended up in 76th overall of 155 or so who started, I think 31st in my class. Nothing special but a fair showing.

Good stuff. I have to say I'm kind of bummed that there isn't another H2H race until September. Of course I may be doing distance races every other week for the next 6 weeks so my plate is full enough right now.

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  • At 9:35 AM, Blogger shaggz said…

    Great race report, Norm. It is interesting to read about your falling into your own pace as opposed to racing others. I think you should have smiled at the guy from Marty's one last time and said something to the effect of, "Nice day for a spin" before you opened up the gap.

  • At 12:12 PM, Anonymous jake said…

    nice work norm! congrats. i was behind you for awhile then i started feeling funny...dehydration. not sure how as i had plenty of water. then my legs cramped up. completely blew up. i guess you could say...kaboom?

  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger ChrisG said…

    Good stuff. To me, a significant element is the learning experience a race provides. No matter how many you do, there's always lots to be taken away.

  • At 7:44 PM, Anonymous walter said…

    great read today norm, and congrats on a great effort and a great race

  • At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Maurice said…

    Sounds like you had fun. I was waiting to see that. Great accomplishment, keep it up!

  • At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just caught on to your blog courtesy of a link from Do you have a post anywhere that tells how you upload your racing and map data?


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