This past Saturday was the 10th running of the Ore To Shore Mountain Bike Epic in Marquette, the race that Ali and I gun for as our goal for our mid season training peak. While the training was there the past two years for Ali, the bike gods were frowning upon her plaguing her with mechanicals in 2007 and 2008, would it be different for 2009?
Right from the roll out I was feeling pretty strong despite knowing I had a long way to go with my sparse to non-existant training base this year. I moved up at least 100 positions during the roll out and gained even more on the luge hill. By the top of the luge hill I felt pretty good, as strong as last year for sure. After another few minutes of spinning along the two track I decided to back it down as I had doubts as to how long I could keep a 170+ heart rate this year. During my pace down my team mate Chad passed, I almost gave chase, but knew I had to drop the heart down a bit. Unfortunately for Chad he had some ajor mechanicals and I passed him 20 milutes later at the side of the trail.
The next few miles went along fine, I passed a few people, got passed by a few and just kept it steady. Every now and then I'd have to crank it to get in front of people for the downhills and to get clear for climbs, but the legs were feeling pretty decent. Finally as we hit the small hills leading to the power lines things were starting to slow a bit, time to back it off more and have fun trudging up misery. Next year I'll be doing some hill running to better prepare for this part, it was a conga line like normal but my breating was horrible and short. When I re-mounted at the top of the climb I could feel what must have been and oncoming cramp in my calves which I have never experienced before. This was my first major signal to back it down more and I tried, but it is a race so I kept my output up there.
The next rolling sections went by slowly in my mind, I was still making good power but my mind was not winning over body. The same bagels, gatorade, and flat pedals guy I finished with last year dropped me a couple miles after the bridge climb. By the time the 20 to go sign appeard I was worried and my pace was dropping off even more. I was guzzling drinks and eating gels but it was not helping, a bunch of people I had passed in the previous ten miles were on top of me and starting to pass back. By the 15 miles to go sign it was all falling apart, my legs were suffering from the lack of early season training and a pace that would have put me across the finish line in the 3:15 range.
That last 15 became a death march to the finish line, I was standing in the saddle and stretching on every downhill and spinning a crazy easy gear up every hill while keeping an eye out behind me because I knew Ali was close. Every now and then my legs would perk up and I'd spin pretty good until the next little climb which rendered them half useless. And then, there it was.... "Oh Hi" as Ali goes rolling past some where around 10 more miles to go. She was stuck in with a group of around four or five riders who quickly slipped past me up the next climb and out of site. "That's my baby" I said to the last guy in the pack as he mentioned that she was chasing me down. :)
Seeing Ali totally brought a smile to my face, less than 10 more miles to go, no mechanicals and on pace to go 3:15/3:25, Ali's Ore To Shore curse was almost broken.
The next couple miles went by slow, I thought I was going to come in closer to 4:00 this year from how it all fell apart, but when I looked at my watch with two miles to go I was shocked, I was going to do it in around 3:30 which was my first goal, second pie in the sky goal being 3:15. Up kirby's hill with the flamingo girls, past the big rock through the short single track section and I was out of the woods. I got passed by two more people and I tagged along behind girl who pulled me darn near the last mile in to the wind and over the mulch and chips. While my legs came back enough to put a pass on her I refrained and just said thanks and that I was notgoing to pass her in the chute just to gain a couple seconds and pimp her in the end. I rolled across the line just behind her and said thanks. She was totally out of it, could barely grunt a response and could not get off her bike her legs cramped up so bad.
So how did we fare? Glen: 3:27 Ali: 3:21
Way to go baby! I knew you going to rock it this year!
And a thanks to Kathe Maskus for the photos!