Monday, August 25, 2008

A tale of two races

Well it's been a while since I've posted, but two races have come and gone with positive results.

First, my planned "A" race for the year became just that. The bulk of my training has been aimed at the super fun point to point Ore to Shore race. The majority of my training has taken place on the road for this one as it's an all out cardio burn. About 47.8 miles of two tracks, dirt and paved roads with that last .2 being wide single track. Unlike the killer Boyne marathon XC course in which your entire body is beat up and put to the test your legs do everything going from Negaunee to Marquette. My buddy Bryce the Flying Kiwi has been aiming all his training at Ore To Shore as well.

After my warmup I lost Ali, great. :( Two minutes before go time, Ali spotted. Yay! The pavement was also puddle free after the quick downpour we had just before the race, double yay!

I lined up in the 3:30 area with Bryce, but as soon as the race announcements were done, everyone seemed to move up. He and I both rolled up a bit further and bang, we were off!

The roll out of town started going pretty well, but then people got kinda wuss like and it was a job to weave through all the slow folks. Soon we were at the luge hill and I was immediately reminded about what this race really was. A series of long flat and gentle rollers with some serious leg grinders tossed in. I beat Bryce up the hill, but he was still nipping at my heels. The climb zapped me a bit, Bryce went by, but I would not let him out of my sites.

I paced back from Bryce until the end of the train tracks when I managed to make my move. Things got a little out of sorts dealing with the two level of tracks and at the next turn I was able to squirt by him and the red tandem that would be getting in our way for pretty much every climb to come.

Being the carrot can suck, you feel the pressure to keep the pace up and make your opponent suffer, the problem is, you suffer too. I wussed out on the creek crossing and took the bridge as my drive train was unhappy enough as it was. I figured Bryce would be on me again, after that, but a couple bikes had gotten between us so I made up some space. It took a while, but he got me again and passed me on the puddly sections of two track.

Eventually I'd get another wind after sucking down a gel and a double gulp of Cytomax and I timed my next pass just before the first real downhill leading into the little rollers. This year there were no massive pile ups, probably since the ground was packed from the rain and not loose and dusty.

I pulled along for a while and zapped myself out, Bryce slowly slipped by once again and I fell back just enough to regain some kick. This quickly became the theme of the race, we were both pushing one another very well. If I felt we were following the guy ahead of us for too long, I zip by and push us hard, Bryce would do the same thing. Misery hill was fun as always and being a better technical rider totally helped get past some roadies here on the downhills that were loose and sketchy.

When we got to the paved section my legs were feeling a bit rough and I knew there was a big climb ahead. My plan was to go aero and just coast down the hill. Everyone in front of us had the same plan minus the aero, I couldn't find a safe gap for the life of me and ended up braking and passing on the double yellow, unlike triathlon, that's not a penalty in mountain biking. :) After crossing the bridge it was go time, the big paved climb that had my legs quivering last year. I was sure Bryce would leave me for spent at this point, but surprisingly our game of cat and mouse remained.

On went the game and my legs were really getting weak. The sand pit came and went, I actually rode the whole thing. The rolling fun section was upon us and the sand was minimal, but people were starting to take bad lines and I took total advantage of it. My last pass on Bryce was totally due to hitting a better apex and maintaining my momentum. I was grinning and spinning, but I lost concentration for a moment, got a little off course and just flopped over on a granny gear climb. Shit! I jumped up, ran the rest of the hill as quickly as I could and managed to get back on the bike and get away before I could get passed again. The rest of the group of four or five guys were had been pacing with the rest of the time laughed and I certainly did too. Slow motion falls are quite funny. :)

The wood chip section had arrived, we were close, I could almost taste the beer and Recoverite at the end. Time to keep spinning and makes up some ground on the guys in front of us. I got past two more folks in the last three miles, but Bryce and I were separated by only one rider. One rider that drafted behind me into the stiff wind on the soft crappy wood chip and sand pathway. My pulling allowed him to jump in front as soon as we hit the pavement leading to the arena, my legs were toast. The man in basketball shorts bested me just before the finish. (Bryce later told me he had two bagels on his top tube in a bag for nutrition and was riding platform pedals!) The result?

Shakey 3:18:35
Flying Kiwi 3:18:51

Both of us beat our times from last year, but I managed to totally blow mine away dropping about 35 minutes off of it. Had it not been for Bryce I never would have pushed that hard, it was a perfect combination for both of us. Of course the rain also gets some credit for the success as most everything was ridable, the sandy sections were packed down and easily navigated. I can only hope for a pre-race shower again next year, but I don't think we'll be that lucky.

On to race # 2, the Bluewater Triathlon and another success. #2 in age group and 21st overall.

The swim was funky dealing with sand bars, currents and a long trudge to the beach, but the water was clean clean clean. The swim felt good and as per plan I just wanted to be in the top third out of the water. Was 5th in AG out of the water.

Transition felt sloppy, but it was just a bit over a minute, my best T1 to date!

The bike, well the cops stopped myself and a group of others behind me to let traffic though. :( All the guys I had blown past were now parked behind me waiting at the light. Finally we were off again, complete with my screwed bike split. At least we got a great tail wind on the way back in and the course was flat overall. Bike rank, 2nd in AG.

I did a perfect flying dismount from the bike, ran it in, got my socks and shoes on, grabbed my hat and number belt and boogied out of transition, 47 seconds! I'm actually starting to get decent at this stuff. :)

The run was a cool course, along the beach for the most part on roads and through this cool path that went right through peoples yards facing the water. It was fun watching people wave at us while drinking their morning coffee. Now if it wasn't for that side stitch that developed at the turn around I'd be much happier. Run rank of 8 at 24:13, boy do I need to run more. :)

Crappy run time aside, I'm way happy with the results. The BMC Time Machine with the Zipp 303's was flawless, my swim was good, my transitions were smooth and I had my first legitimate age group placing. (My first was in a race with only 70 people)

The rest of the Greyhounds did great to, in fact we hit the medal shelf hard with three first place in AG awards that day too!

So that's my racing stories from the past couple weeks. A big shout out to Bryce for pushing the hell out of me at Ore to Shore. To Erin at The Shout who did her first hard rock 48 ever. To my Greyhound peeps for the fun time at Bluewater and the stellar hardware raid at award time. And of course to the Dirty Picasso Girl, my favorite road trip companion, riding buddy and life companion whom had her second year of O2S mechanicals. Despite flats and other madness she crossed the line smiling with local legend the Hurricane whom she shared her adventure with. Don't forget to wish her a happy birthday in a couple days!

We now return you to your life after this agonizingly long entry, thanks for reading and cross for fingers for a warm fall!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What is your google telling you

Apparently I need to get a secret decoder ring for my bathroom.