I have only done long rides this year with medium intensity at best. I'm taking this year much slower than last and hoping to make the switch to the expert category in mid May.
When the race stared down the Hamburg trail I was totally blown away at how fast the pace was. I think we were pushing 25 at one point. My legs felt swollen with all kinds of shit before we ever dropped in the gravel down hill. By the time we reached the top of the other side the leaders were long gone, already. I found myself in a group of about 4 or 5 guys that were setting a good pace that wasn't over baring on me. When we finally reached the single track I felt like I was in my comfort zone finally. Single track is where I usually thrive and relax, but this single track was new and very bumpy which made that impossible. The first time onto the gravel double track on the back side of the course it was Zach Brace and myself with the others in our group left behind. We had just dropped the other guys in the woods... who were all on 29ers. Two of the guys we had dropped did manage to get back on with us by the end of the double track before entering the woods again.
Coming through the start finish for lap 1 at 39 minutes was a good feeling. I know that wasn't a record lap, but it seemed like a respectable lap. I didn't need anything food or drink wise so I kept my momentum around the corner and heading up the hill for my second. When I got to the top and glanced down to check my HR and it was pegged at 193. The first lap effort I put in was by far the hardest 40 minutes on my legs this year and I could tell they didn't like it.
On the second lap, by the time we got to the single track again, Zach and another guy where starting to slip away. I was near the blow up point and had no choice but to back it down and recover a little. I rode most of the second lap alone with those two in, and out of sight for the rest of the lap.
On the third lap I felt really tired. I was getting plenty of calories but I think ultimately, my first lap effort killed my race for me. The third time through the new single track I hit a sharp rock and flatted the rear tire. As I sat there and messed with that for a few minutes I watched other racers go by. After that was fixed and I was moving, I looked and the clock and wondered If I would get five laps. I was tired, no longer motivated and in a little pain. At this point, it was nothing more than a training ride.
I kept the pedal turning and just focused on 5 laps. I kept the fluids and food going in and made sure I maintained a steady pace. By this time the expert field was starting to pass by which was cool to see. They were flying by and that was motivating for me, even while feeling so shitty. I knew it was going to be close on the clock for me to get a fifth lap but I wasn't going to give up.
My fourth time through the creek was at 2 hours and 50 minutes. At this point I pretty much had it unless something happened to my bike, which it didn't. I started my fifth lap at 2 hours and 56 minutes in. It wasn't fast, but I met my goal even with a flat tire on lap three. My last lap was a slow one. No real effort was put in. Just getting the miles and reflecting on the race. What could I have done different? That's what I thought most of this lap. Either way, I did what I came to do. I made it a little over 43 miles in about 3 hours and 50 minutes. I finished 20th out of about 30. Thats ok, it was a great day.
Thank you Steph and Craig for the water bottle, food, and tube hand ups.
Also, It was nice to see a lot of the faces I haven't seen since cross season ended in December.
Rim Wrecker is next weekend. Now that I have a race under me I am going to try and fine tune a little this week to get ready for it.