Sunday, August 26, 2007

A tale of two races

This past week has felt like we were living back in Georgia again. Rain, high temps and humidity made for some uncomfortable riding conditions but it did seem to revive the grass a little. But that means it needs to get cut again.

It rained some just about every day since last Sunday and we had a big storm Friday night with Tornadoes about 30 miles away. I figured Saturday's race at Maybury would be a struggle, both from the mud and that the course does not allow too many chances to rest.

On the way out to the race and a 9:00 am start I ran into more rain, not a good sign. Once at the course it wasn't raining but the race would be delayed slightly while crews were out clearing trees off the trail. When we finally started I was pleased to find out that the trail wasn't really muddy for the most part but it was still slick, especially in the corners. The course was a lot slower due to the wet surface.

I started out right behind the eventual winner of my class and felt comfortable for the first half of the lap. I stayed right on his rear wheel but he started to pull away as my legs started to protest. This was not good, the legs in trouble after half of a lap and 3.5 more to go. The third place racer caught up to me and followed me around until close to the end of the first lap when he went by and I did not respond. I ended up making the rest of the race a long trail ride and eventually finished 3rd, with a comfortable gap over those behind me. I felt sorry for the Sport and Beginner riders that were racing later in the day as the skies opened up shortly after I finished and made the course a lot muddier than we had it.

Today was the Pontiac Lake XC and since it was close by I figured i would race it as well. I was going to try it in the single speed class but I couldn't set my derailleurs to prevent accidental shifting. Remembering my problems at Stony a few weeks ago running single speed I decided to race geared in my age class. Not having a license meant I would have to race in the Sport category. But with the legs feeling spent from Saturday's race I didn't think there would be a threat of me walking away with a win.

The weather was perfect and the trail as well. We started with the 15-18 year group which must have had about three times the number of our 50+ class. At least it was easy to tell who was in which class. But it made the start a little crowded as we sprinted for the first singletrack section.

One rider in my class broke away but I did not feel like chasing, at least not if I wanted to finish the race. I got stuck behind another rider in my group and a few of the younger ones until I was able to force my way past on some of the hills. It seemed like I was quickly running into back markers from the groups that started in front of us so I spent a good bit of time trying to pass. Most of the racers were good about letting me by but others took a little maneuvering on my part to get around. Racing in the Expert class this year I don't have many opportunities to pass and forgot how bad it can be.

I ended up in second, with about the same gap to first as I had over third. I don't feel too bad about the result since I raced yesterday but I can definitely tell I lack the XC fitness level I had last year. Maybe all the longer races have worn me out a little too.

I don't think I will race again until Addison Oaks at the end of September but there is another race at Stony before that and I may give it a try. I have been searching for a coach for next year and think I have found one that will take me to the next level for local and national results. Stay tuned for updates on that development.

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