Monday, September 12, 2011

Season 1

My first race season has come to a close...

Overall, I've learned a lot.  A lot about my fitness, my riding, and hopefully I have an idea of where I need to go from here.  I've also been fortunate to meet some really great people through this blog and through racing.  And I'm grateful for all the advice and support I've received, so a big thanks to all you out there!!

For my final race, the Landmine Classic, I had no Annie or parents rooting me on... Annie is in LA with her best friend... so I took full advantage of that fact when making sure things looked good on the HiFi on Saturday.
That's condo living!

Even in their absence, I was still able to pull a crowd!!  My buddy Matt (a coworker) came out, even though I repeatedly told him he certainly did not have to show up (I didn't want him to feel obligated to check out my race since I had just stopped by his rugby game).   I spotted him as we were lining up waiting for the Cat 1 and Cat 2 riders to go off.  He didn't stay the entire time, good call on his part, and I greatly appreciated him seeing me start.

It was great seeing some familiar faces, and as with every race, meeting some new riders.  As I pulled in to park the door of the truck next to me swings open and out comes a question "are you following me??"  Low and behold it was Charlie - I swear, I'm not a stalker!!  I also met up with my buddy Pat at the end of the race.  I missed him before everything got started as I wasn't sure if he was going to ride the 25mi race or not.  I was out warming up right until they were getting things started so I didn't have time to thoroughly check for him... didn't see him on the course, but apparently passed him at some point.

I'd have to say, overall things went great for such a big race (400+ riders).  Instant results on the big screen was pretty sweet.  I heard a couple riders missed turns out on the course, which is unfortunate.  I made a turn late - but that wasn't really due to markings, that was more so because of traffic.  I had just let a rider pass me back as another was coming up behind me calling for the pass.  I was focused on staying to the right to let the pass happen and just followed the rider in front of me and at the last second looked up to see a left turn as the rider back was coming up for the pass (on my left).  I called out the turn (which he didn't seem to be making, following the rider ahead of us, and we both took it a little off trail to make the turn without crashing.  I tried to yell back to the rider who had passed me, but I'm not sure if he heard before going too far off course.  For the most part things were marked well - although I would agree that some taping across trail splits would have been nice here and there.

So my race...  I'm happy to say I've ended my season on a positive note.  From my pre ride I estimated a finishing time of around 1 hour 20 minutes.  I felt that as long as I was able to pace myself and not take off too hot I should be able to hit this goal.  In the line up I ended up towards the back, which was unintentional.  It was hard to tell where the age group in front of us ended and where ours began... I thought I was sitting pretty good until the age in front left... I was toward the back of the pack.  At first I wasn't happy about that, but then I thought it might turn out to be good, keeping me back a little so I didn't start off too fast... I quickly learned that wasn't the case at all.  Well, id DID keep me from not going off too fast, but it was too slow.  I worked my way through the pack as we rode the straight flat start before we hit the first turn into some rooty singletrack.  This put me at a slightly faster pace than I really wanted, but I was feeling good.  I was still working my way up steadily through the field when all of a sudden a rider went down on a rooty turn.  He fell hard next to me and we got jammed up for a second.  I made sure he was ok before taking off after those that got out ahead.

After that point I caught a few more people, got passed by a couple, but pretty much held my place for the rest of the race.  I had no idea how far I had gotten up, but I felt pretty solid in my ability to hold off those behind me.  The course was beautiful - considering the rains we had earlier in the week.  Some roots were a tad slick, but overall the course was pretty dry and fast.

Wet roots... my nemesis at the start of the season were no longer the monsters they once were...  I mean, they aren't my friends, but I feel my bike handling skills have improved by leaps and bounds throughout the season and I was able to aptly take them on turns and off camber trails with little worry.

Overall it was a day of good riding.  I finished in 10th place (out of 30).  I was happy with that.  I was kinda hoping I had cracked the top 10, but I am still happy with those results.  10th out of 30 is good enough to earn me a little something extra.  What I am much more pleased with was that my finishing time was 5 minutes faster than my target time!  I ended up finishing the 12 mile race in 1 hour 15m minutes.

So cheers to a great season.  I think I'll take a week to enjoy the season, and then it's time to start getting my ass in gear and training for next season.  I've enjoyed racing greatly, but I have a long way to go and I'm ready to get serious about this mess!

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