Race Day proved to show some epic conditions for a mountain bike race. We hit a big snowfall on I5 going through Salem, and arrived at the Blodgett School to find a few inches of snow on the ground.
Fergus and I were strategizing like girls before the prom about what to wear. Csaba was a man on a mission, and I was a man who couldn't decide whether to have a headband or hat/1 set of arm warmers or 2/rain shell or no/1 vest or 2/tights or knickers (oh crap! of all the clothing I brought I did not bring tights!)/glove liners or no/???? So many questions... I tend to run hot, metabolically speaking of course, so went with a stunning ensemble of light long sleeve woolie with a long sleeve Cyclisme jersey, with Ibex arm warmers and a Cyclisme vest. Down below I ran the simple Voler knickers and double wool socks in the trusty Sidi shoes. (OK, enough sponsor plugs, but I gotta pay the bills..)
I warm up a bit, and see my friend (and my kid's favorite teacher of all time) Steve Davee of Veloce. Steve was wearing about 10 layers of clothing it seemed, but I reminded myself that he's also about 1% body fat compared to my substantial layer of medically beneficial and insulative blubber (oops, I mean "body fat"). OK, so now that my red carpet review is over, on to the racing!
Wait--- here's where my energy fades (yes, like on every climb...), and we go to Csaba's race report:
-----------------------SPECIAL FIELD REPORT ! -----------------------
It was hard to gauge how to dress for this race with the chilly schizo
weather. The snow made things very pretty, like on the day in Jan/Feb
that me, Jeff, Greg, and Tony rode in Forest Park and found some snow
to play in. While I ended up being too cold waiting for the race to
start, peeling off the last layer that I did before the race turned
out to be a wise move.
I started near the front of the pack. After the start, I was
immediately at the back of a small pack of riders on the first
(shortish) gravel road climb and I couldn't hold on. By the time I
crested that pack was off a ways on the sloping road. Still, I think
I had a bit of a gap on the larger herd of riders behind me, which
came in handy when I hit the next set of longer/steeper climbs where
they caught me. I had room to ride and pick my line, etc. My
transmission was cooperative and I made it into the correct gear for
the climb. While intimidatingly steep and I nearly hopped off to push
at a few points, I surprised myself and rode that first series of
climbs. Additional encouragement came when I found that I was able to
ride some slippery singletrack sections later on as well. While I can
not yet claim blazing speed, I'm doing better at the climbing thing
than I was last year. Thanks again JB, team, and Rock Creek :-)
Disaster struck near the end of the second singletrack section maybe
1/3 of the way through the race. Steep slippery downhill with a hard
right turn across two half-buried logs leading to more gravel road. I
chose a poor line and my front wheel went out from under me on the
first log. For all the soft moss and mud on the course, I missed...
I landed hard with my hip on the second log. Very painful. A nice
gentleman took a break from racing, ran back uphill and helped me/bike
off the trail before heading off again. I lost about 5mins there
getting my wind back and trying to assess the damage. Bunch of people
went by, many of them wiping out on the same log, though with better
luck than I on landing.
The gently sloping gravel road section that was next turned out to be
ideal for testing whether I could continue riding. It turns out that
while my side/hip was plenty tender, I was lucky and didn't nail any
of the muscles I needed to turn the pedals. I only discovered this
later once I was home, but perhaps it helped that my Clif shots
cushioned the blow. What a sticky mess!
I was still taking it easy when Greg caught up with me. Sticking with
him became the carrot that I needed to see if I could increase my
pace. Of course, chasing Greg turned out to be a mixed blessing as I
followed him off course. Silly me... I couldn't figure out what
hazard it was that they had taped off as Greg and I rode by it. :-)
Back on course, I follow Greg through some more slippery singletrack.
I think Greg eventually got a ways ahead of me, though still within
sight. I eventually caught and passed him on a gravel road climb.
While injured, I was still feeling strong. That made me pissed off
because of the time I'd lost and riders that had gone by when I had
crashed. I channeled that anger into my legs and focused on picking
off as many of those riders that had gone by as I could. In the gaps
between riders, I focus on my yoga breathing and JB's disembodied
voice reminds me to keep my elbows bent and eat/drink.
It felt pretty darn good to be faster than others both on uphills
(even running with the bike in places) and downhills. Making use of
the reminder from race director MikeR at the meeting before the race,
riders were pretty good about letting me by when I called out "track".
There were a couple of downhill gravel road sections where I put it
in the big ring and got some good speed going. Although part of this
was necessity as my smallest sprockets had gotten so gunked up that my
chain would skip in those gears.
With about 1K to go according to a sign, we had a hardpacked dirt road
to climb out to the finish. I and two other riders traded positions
for that section and we finished as a cluster, though with me in the
trailing spot. I just didn't have the legs to keep with them for the
last little sprint. If the finish times can be believed, they must've
been in a different class anyway, so I wouldn't have gained anything
if I'd beaten the other two.
My race data is here:
If you search for "mudslinger" at the motionbased.
several other sets of data as well.
For this race, I raced one big loop in contrast to the multiple laps
at Horning's. Mudslinger was shorter/faster. I liked/disliked parts
of each, can't really decide if I have a preference for one over the
Injury aside, I was most sore after Hornings, then POC, then
Mudslinger. It may be because I didn't push as much on Mudslinger
after I crashed. While tender, I'm feeling better than on Sunday. My
doc confirmed that I just have a bad bruise. Ice, "vitamin I", and
gentle stretching are doing their thing. Yoga felt good today.
Looks like next two MTB races are in Ashland and Bend. Jonesing for
some desert riding, so I'd probably try to get to Bend if I have to
choose one of the two.