Boy am I glad I didn't pre-register us for the Boulevard Road Race! Would've been cool seeing Floyd line up for his first race post-suspension, but the weather sounds like it was brutal. Also, with Justin's injury it wouldn't have been good to be registered for anything. Can't plan for that obviously…
Instead I decided I'd brave the rainy weather and do a mountain bike race. I'm not so good with the mental aspect of riding in the rain, so I figured doing a race in it would help boost my confidence and ability to suffer through it.
We left the house early on Saturday to sprinkling skies. There were rays of sunlight poking through up near the race venue, but I knew from the forecast that it wouldn't last! It continued to sprinkle as I registered and got my first number plate of 2009. Justin tooled around showing off the bike while I got changed to do a pre-lap. The course was changed from last year due to some property issues with some kind of insect and just general ownership. I wasn't too worried, but I wanted to know what to expect of the new section(s).
It wasn't raining when I suited up, so I wore my race kit for the day (including my 2008 winter favorite Specialized BG Pro knickers - fleece lined in the front!), plus winter gloves and a lined vest. Wanted to stay warm. I pulled the arm warmers down on the road climb and pulled at the vest zipper to let in some air. Too hot! At least I knew exactly what to gear up in for the race itself.
Pro racer Robert Herber caught up to me on my warmup lap and we chatted about our bitching new bikes (he has a new Jamis carbon fiber rig). Now, Herber rides my local course a lot, and he's known to spend hours charging up hike a bikes in his big ring… so, when he hopped off to run around this new steep mushy switchback I figured "why bother?" and I hopped off. The rest of the new singletrack was spongy and I'm doubting its staying power for the US Cup race in a month and a half. But, Saturday it was entirely rideable, minus the switchback which was a mess anyway and really sharp.
The rest of the course was generally the same, but there were two spots I would've been like "WHOA WHAT" if I had not pre-ridden the new spots. So, glad I did. I got a little muddy, but not too bad, and I generally had an idea of the puddles to miss during the race (I had no desire to splash through them at all what-so-ever racing or not).
Got back to the truck, downed my banana, got re-situated and hit up the start line. FOUR WOMEN! What? That never happens!
I was stoked on the field and happy to see Lexi had stepped up from Sport (she did really well at some summer races with no training last year). Also saw Lisa, who's a strong Expert racer and has a lot of race experience. The other Expert I think was fairly new to the area? and just started with Giant bikes.
Justin had explained to me the need for me to learn and utilize race tactics. Last year I'd go for hole shot or just back, and pass wherever I felt I could and just try to hold the lead, or keep at it. That worked for the most part. The higher the category, though, the more competition and the more tactics that are necessary.
So, I sat in. Lisa took the lead right out of the gate and I sat on her wheel
The Pro Man racer went around early on, so I tagged on her wheel instead.
We were coming up to the largest puddle on course. She had been just splashing through every bit of water on course. I wasn't sure if she was trying to get my glasses soaked and muddy, or if she thought it was the fastest option. Either way she went straight through the middle of this huge puddle on a sweeping turn and sank in. I had gone on the edge and motored by, holding the wheel of the Cat 1 men in front of me. She must've been right on my wheel because the second we got near the pavement climb she motored past. I grabbed her wheel again and sat in. Didn't feel any affects of drafting, but I wasn't about to let her get away. She knew I was there.
I heard her breathing heavy and noticed one of the older Cat 1 men up ahead falling off the pace of the rider in front of him. I made the decision to wait til we got closer to the singletrack and then make a move to pass them both and hit the dirt with a gap in front of me. I'm not a fan of riding my brakes on the fun descent. I had no idea if I could hold her off on the singletrack steep climbs, but I figured it was worth a shot.
So, when we got near the top I took a lesson from 12 Hours of Temecula (only doubled it), and dropped 2 gears and disappeared! I stood up and hammered past both of them and hit the dirt. I kept up the pace and when I looked back they hadn't held my wheel. I made it up the climbs, hit the singletrack descent and was smiling with speed.
When I looked back near the end of the descent I didn't see anyone!
I continued to hold a good pace, and was happy to know the new section of course. Walked the switchback with everyone else, and continued on. She wasn't far behind me, but I'd opened up a good gap and kept motoring and trying to look strong and fresh.
Came in for lap 2 feeling good. Unfortunately I dropped my only bottle. I considered not stopping, but knew it was a long lap with no fluids and I still had one to go after that, so I put my bike down and hobbled back to pick it up. I took a sip, noticed a major leak (the cap had ripped halfway off and was not seated correctly). I tried to unscrew it and put it back, but had to stop yet again to fix the lid. Not sure how long it took, but it was definitely not a good use of my time.
I wasn't too worried since I didn't see anyone in my class, but hopped back on the bike and went back and forth with some of the Expert men.
Had fun on the singletrack sections again. Kept the fluids coming in and just tried to hold my pace. I felt pretty good, and my HR wasn't pegged.
When I got to the switchback on the far side the guy in front of me got off to walk and I thought "screw it, might as well try it". I'm not so good at switchbacks, but I figured I'd at least check it out. I actually made it around the switchback and the guy asked if I wanted through - I said sure, thanks!
Continued on and noticed I'd pulled a bigger gap on 2nd place by the time I was on my "return trip" to the start/finish.
I came around for lap 3, got a fresh bottle (should've just stuck with one large bottle and I wouldn't have needed a hand-off in the chilly weather) and Justin told me to go all out. So, I did.
It was painful. The road climb hurt. My legs were hurting more on the singletrack. I kept at it.
I didn't make the switchback, but I noticed the gap had gotten just a tad bit wider. Kept hammering and my legs were feeling fried. I missed a short steep section for the first time all day, but redeemed myself at the steep rocky loose climb by making it for the first time (someone out there got photographic evidence) - and I punched the air in celebration.
Came around and hammered to the finish line!
Felt great and so thoroughly enjoyed the bike. I can't wait to do more racing on it!!
I spent too much standing around, and despite my recovery fuel post-race (I think I waited too long being too chatty!) my legs felt like crap all afternoon. I knew I had a big day coming up on Sunday, so I wanted my legs to feel recovered. We spent a long time in the car also that afternoon, and I tried to spend the evening sitting, hydrating, and eating a big dinner at my mother-in-law's. "Free range" pork (she raised it herself), garlic mashed potatoes, and a massive salad. I am not sad to say I ate a few servings, but didn't over-eat, and kept the alcohol intake to a new low (and the Italian wine she had was amazing).
Got to sleep a bit late Saturday night, but with the weather as a massive question mark I wasn't too worried about Sunday.
Woke up to drizzle. Shocking. It had drizzled all Thursday evening, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. I knew the trail would be wet, the plants would be wet, and it'd more than likely be drizzling at the trailhead as well. It was, but not too bad, and somewhat shocking (though not at all if you consider it was the 3rd day of rain) the trailhead was fairly packed. Not your normal sunny Sunday packed, but packed for a rainy day. Lots of people needed to get out and stretch their legs, I guess!
I had assumed from Eric's email Saturday night that he wasn't in (snow is in the forecast - you guys dress warm). So, Luke and I suited up and headed up the trail after Justin took off for his hike.
It hadn't occurred to me at the time, but he was in such a hurry to get out there… didn't figure he needed to be since he had all morning. I realized late yesterday that he didn't want to watch us ride off when he couldn't also be riding.
So, I hung on Luke's wheel up to Cocktail. I probably should've gone around and focused on staying in front of him instead of riding his wheel, so I wound up not really getting in too many hard efforts. Was pretty much putting out Z2/3 efforts and I felt chatty. We got up to Cocktail soaking wet. The sun made a brief appearance through the clouds (it didn't clear, but we could see the rays struggling to get through). I texted back and forth with Justin as I struggled to quickly drop some food down the hatch. I asked Luke if he was going to eat and he said no. I knew I needed food, so took the time to eat.
We headed up for loop. Neither of us was really sure how far we were going to go. I really am not into the rain, as I noted above, and Luke wasn't feeling that great after a bout of food poisoning earlier in the week. He stopped at one point as we rode through muddy water and kind of looked at me like "How far are we going?" I kept pedaling since I knew I needed this mentally.
We made it down to the bottom of a rooty descent and all of a sudden out of nowhere comes a rider. I moved over so he could pass and then realized it was Eric! He'd been chasing us down for quite awhile.
Luke upped the pace at that point and despite the fact that I felt like I was struggling to hang on, I could barely get into Z3. I think I was just really cold.
At that point it was inevitable to do the short loop up top, so we made pretty quick work of it. I felt pretty good and there wasn't any mud. My tires weren't slipping too much. I did do an OTB-run out, but we had just stopped for another rider, and I wasn't focused, so just kind of slipped over. No biggie. My gloves were soaked, my glove covers were muddy, and I was literally sopping wet from head to toe.
I had taped Ziploc's around my feet that morning to try to keep them dry and warm. The only negative is that you still sweat and wind up getting condensation. But, I didn't get any rain water in my feet at least. My toes were cold almost all day, however.
Before I got in my bike gear
I actually had a spot of fun on the loop. We were descending in a pretty heavy down pour and I was smiling and kinda laughing to myself about it. This section is all rolling, so I could maintain some warmth.
By the time we got back to the mid-point and our final 6-mi descent my hands were shaking with cold and we were all covered in goose bumps. We started down and it was going okay. Sprinkles, and a lot more mud than on the climb up. The drizzle had been pretty non-stop since our trip up.
I managed to stay close to Eric for the first part, but once we reached the switchbacks my hands were numb. Actually, everything hurt and my earlier smile had turned into a painful grimace. I wanted this to be over, but it was pretty slippery and I couldn't feel my hands, so I wound up just going really slow.
Got down to the trailhead and just kind of stood in the rain. I had no idea where to begin. My hands hurt and I was muddy wet mess. I put my bike on the rack and decided I'd at least get out a towel and get to work changing out of the wet clothes in the back seat. I looked up to see Justin's red jacket coming down the road, so instead I ran over to greet him. I was already wet, so what was the harm?
He thought it was funny so he snapped a picture.
It took me forever to get out of the wet clothes and try to dry off. My extremities did not work. I couldn't put on my recovery tights, and I could barely get my warm-up pants on. My hands and feet were not cooperating at all. So, I settled for what clothes I could put on, then Justin got changed. I drank my recovery coffee and ate my new favorite post-ride food: honey wheat bagel slathered with PB&J. I just wish I had a way to keep them warm!! It is a lot of food, though, and a TON of calories.
I did absolutely nothing productive after the ride except for crave food. Since I didn't ride that much (and it wasn't a stellar workout) I tried to keep the calories low. Had a big dinner, went to bed fairly early.
Boy, I am sore this morning! I have muscle pain in places I forgot were muscles! Guess this "build" thing is going to be a lot more work than I imagined! Taking today off and hoping the legs are ready to giv'er for the next 3 days. Got a bunch of hills and intervals in my future! Good times.
Final thoughts: Justin put on his GP-1 Ergon grips for the race. LOVE THEM. So glad to be back running Ergon's vs. the Specialized grips. Also - I LOVE MY NOIR BAR! Width is spectacular. No loss of confidence descending. The Scrub rotors only squealed a few times on extended descents, but the power output was great. Considering they aren't even fully broken in yet, I'm stoked on them!