I wanted to get this post out while thoughts are still fresh in my head!
The race this past Sunday, August 21st in River Falls was the best race I've had in quite some time. I wish I could really nail down why. It was one of those races where all the pieces fell in place. Maybe it was a combination of things? I was on vacation all week, so that didn't intrude on my training or just generally mess my days up. I laid off the weights all week, but I'm not convinced that made a big difference. I got in a couple good runs, which for some odd reason seem to help my biking. What ever it was, I hope it continues for at least a couple more races.
Tammy and I went up to River Falls on Saturday afternoon. We spent the morning watching the local triathlon and all the triathletes run and bike by our house. It is always hard for me to spectate at a race. I want to be out there doing! Maybe that helped my race to-all that pent up energy! Anyway..... we checked in at the hotel less than a mile from the race, changed quick and unloaded the bikes and headed out for a preride. Nice and easy, nothing too hard. I rode quite a bit of it with Tammy. Ended up with a little over 11 miles and most of two laps. We had a couple of subs for supper and spent the night relaxing and soothing our muscles in the hot tub!
I didn't sleep very well that night. My back was bothering me a little and I just couldn't get comfortable. When the sun started peaking through the shades we got up and had a good breakfast. I tried to fill up as best I could since I wouldn't be racing until 11:30 a.m.
Once we got to the race site we got the bikes ready and then met up with our cheering section-Lara, Jeremy and Kaelyn-daughter, son-in-law and grand daughter. I watched Tammy start her race, waited for her to come around and start the next lap and then headed off to get ready for my race.
Waiting in line for the start, I was talking to some of the other racers and they were all talking about the second hill in the middle of the course. Hmmm.......this didn't sound good. I didn't ride that yesterday! I must have missed a section of course. This didn't look too promising!
I had a good spot for the start. Towards the middle on the line. I had my usual good start and was right up front when we hit the hill. It wasn't much of a lead out to the hill, maybe a couple hundred yards. I kept a hard but steady pace up the hill. I didn't want to kill myself right at the start. Once at the top the course opened into a field before the first section of single track. I tried to limit my losses and get in to the single track in a good position. I rode the single track pretty well but didn't push it too much on the first lap. I wanted to have something left for the unknown hill and the second lap.
Sure enough, I came out of some single track and there was "the hill". Man! Nice and steep with lots of loose rock. One line that crossed the hill part way up. Down in to the granny ring and grind to the top. Off through more single track and a couple more open field sections for passing.
At the start of the second lap one of the Minnesota racers passed me up the opening climb. Man, he was scooting up the climb like a mountain goat. "Don't worry" he said, "you'll pass me in a couple minutes". Me, I wasn't so sure! I kept him in sight, especially when I saw the 50-54 on his back tag. It was tough in this race knowing where I was in relation to the others in my age group. Lots of Minnesota racers made it hard to know who was where. Most of the race I thought I was doing well, but never really knew.
I passed the Minnesotan in the single track and put the hammer down to catch a few others that I could see. We were starting to get behind the slower riders from previous waves and I was trying to pass when ever I could.
Coming out of the single track and on to that second climb my rival went by me again! Man, could he climb!! I put my head down, gritted my teeth and probably had my tongue out trying to limit my loss up that damn hill. I caught him and stayed on his wheel through the single track and field sections of that second lap.
As we came out of the single track and headed in to the last long open field section I shifted up and passed him just before we entered the last single track. Then I let 'er rip. I felt like I was flying through the single track. As fast as I felt like I was going, it just amazes me that the elites are going even faster! I was pushing harder than I have all year. As goofy as it sounds, the bike and I were one! In and out of the trees, around the corners. I was in the zone. I felt like I had tunnel vision and all I could see was the trail. I hoped my bike could keep up with how hard I wanted to push it. I passed a couple more riders in that last section and then came out of the woods for the short push to the line. It was a dicey finish, with a straight field section and then an almost 180 degree turn about 50 yards from the line. I popped it up to the big ring and sprinted with all I had. I didn't know where anyone was behind me but they were going to have to be flying to get by me!
I made it to the line 3.5 seconds ahead of my new rival and friend from Minnesota. As we were talking in the finish chute, one of my chief competitors in our age group came up behind me. What the ???????? He had been so far ahead on the opening climb I figured I'd never see him again. Apparently I had passed him in the last section too. I had been concentrating so hard I never even saw him!
Waiting for the results, I felt I had done well. I really didn't care too much-okay, a little-how I finished. I just felt good. I had been in the "zone". No matter the results, I had a friggin' awesome race!!
The results showed me in 2nd out of 17 in my age group. I never saw the leader after the start. I was 62 out of 172 Sport class riders-less than six minutes from the winner. I'm usually 10-12 minutes back overall.
I still don't know why it went so well, I'm just glad it did! I'm going to give most of the credit to having family there cheering me on and trying to make my littlest fan, Kaelyn, proud of her Grandpa.
Now, a short week before the Reforestation Ramble on August 28th. A little farther distance that normal, but not as hilly or technical. It's gonna be like a road race through the pines. Man, I hope that mojo stays with me.
Thanks for suffering through this long winded post.