Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lumberjack Report

Well, I broke my streak of four consecutive 2nd place finishes but not on a good way. The short story is that I ended up 3rd. The long story is that I was in second for about 96 out of the 100 miles but faded on the last two laps allowing the competition to close the gap and catch me.

It was no body's fault but my own, I simply went out too hard on the first lap and built up about a 10 minute lead. I wanted to try something different this race, instead of trying to close a gap I want to create one. I felt pretty good going into the race so I got ahead on the first climb of the day and extended my lead.

I was surprised though when I came around at the end of the first lap and my crew told me someone was ahead of me by three minutes. I figured it was the first place guy in the national series. My second lap still felt pretty good but I could sense the power fading.

On the third and fourth laps I felt like I was starting to go backwards and got that awful feeling that people were starting to catch me. I still had a pretty good lead over second starting the final lap but I was having problems on the climbs. My heart rate was way down from previous laps.

Sure enough, with about 4 miles and some of the biggest climbs to go I saw 3rd and 4th place catching me. They soon passed me and I struggled to pass the 4th place guy and catch up to the 3rd place, or now 2nd place guy. He is the person who has traditionally beat me in these races and I didn't want to let him get away.

I managed to stay on his wheel and eventually passed him back, thinking I had opened back a small gap but he was right behind me. I was faster in the tight sections and downhills but he managed to pass me back on the last major climb of the day, probably the worst hill of the trail. I couldn't catch back up and ended up rolling under the finish banner 1:30 back. My finishing time was bout nine hours and 15 minutes. I was so disappointed in my result after all that effort, I know my pit crew was really pulling for me.

Speaking of pit crew, I had to have had the best crew out there, Shari had everything organized and ready and I felt like I was in a race car pit stop. Tracy was there to help as well as they got me into a fresh Camelbak, changed my bottles and Hammer products and got me back out in probably less than 3 minutes each time, maybe faster unless I asked for something. I owe them a great big thank you and am sorry I couldn't have hung in there for 2nd place.

The overall series has to be extremely close, depending on how they are doing the series calculation. The current leader was not the winner at Lumberjack but finished below 5th so I don't know what the actual standing look like now. I may have moved into 1st but it is an unknown.

The next race is in August near State College, PA. Unfortunately the person who always beats me has raced there quite a bit and won several times so he has that advantage. I will have to come up with a different strategy next time.

A big congratulation to Robin for completing his first 100, and on his SS. This was a tough course with no rest like the other 100's since this one was 100% singletrack. You were always pedaling and a lot of it was bumpy.

For the record Chris Eatough won the race for the second year in a row setting a new course record of six hours and 49 minutes. Our local racer Mike Simonson was 12 minutes back. The course was run in the reverse direction from last year and it seemed faster. Most riders reported faster times this year. It helped that the temperatures were about ten degrees cooler as well.

The 29'er was fantastic on this course with all the sand and loamy soil. I was blasting by people on the downhills and right with them in the twisty stuff. I am glad that I added a suspension seatpost due the bumps on the course.

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