Cross season's only been over for 8 weeks, should still be in the transition/base/cross-training phase of my year. I should be doing long slow road rides, long slow runs, lots of yoga/pilates. I should be keeping my heart rate in check and I should be staying off the bike. Should be, but I'm not. Got the itch to race again (already) and took a chance on a race at Hobby Park out in Winston-Salem, NC. The band had shows on Friday and Saturday in Spartanburg and Charlotte so Saturday I took a detour up to Winston to check out the course. When I arrived I parked next to a guy who was one of the organizers and course markers. He gave me the skinny then I took two laps to try to learn the course. Hobby park is another one of these Eastern mountain bike parks where a group has taken a small chunk of land and absolutely packed it with trails. Lots of turns. Ok, like a million freaking turns and most of them are the well designed type where you only need to brake about half as much as you think you do. I was concerned the locals would have them all dialed in and I'd be over-braking and over-accelerating all day so I took my time trying to figure out the various sections.
After the pre-ride I checked into a hotel and headed to the gig at the Visulite in Charlotte. The gig was kick ass, I ate a ton of food (including most of what was left of several band-mates dinners), the band rocked it then I beat it for my hotel, arriving at 1:15am. Beer and quick yoga session and my head hit the pillow about 2am.
7:30 alarm. Dragged myself to the shower, got some coffee, made a peanut butter sandwich, grabbed a banana and made haste. Generally I like at least an hour to settle in and warm up, but the race director had vastly underestimated the popularity of the race and despite my pre-registration status, I waited in line for 30 minutes to get my number. Short warm-up, line-up with 9 or 10 other dudes. Start line was on pavement and it started down a gentle downhill then up a super steep paved section (soap-box derby hills are seriously steep). In regular, short mountain bike races, my strategy is always the same: get to the twisty stuff first, drop hammer, don't look back. I got on the trail first and within' 3 minutes I was catching the Women's Cat 2 group. Fortunately they were all still close together and for the most part very polite and I was able to work through them in less than a half mile. (This is also a large part of my strategy, putting slower individuals between me and my pursuers.) I had a little room to myself then and tried to flow and not blow it too hard.
By the second half of the first lap I was making my way through some of the different age groups of the Cat 3 men. With one exception they were all very nice and accommodating and let me by pretty much as soon as I caught them (and I must have caught 25 guys over the course of the race). The one exception was this complete douche who, in spite of my polite explaination that I was not in his class, was in fact, leading mine and wanted around him, insisted that I "earn it." I'd asked several times when there were places he could move over, and finally when he yelled at me to "earn it" (direct quote) I gave him what he wanted and stuffed him in a tight corner. Several of my fellow SS riders were familiar with this guys tactics and had been forced to "earn it" as well. If you're the Earn It guy, and you stumble upon this blog, kill self.
Second lap I was just hammering, picking off riders, trying to stay in the flow. The course was relentless with tight turns, steep climbs, lots of ups and downs, constant braking and accelerating. Basically it was perfect for a single track junkie like myself. I came across the line 62 minutes after I started. Second place was 14 minutes behind. I was really stoked but felt like maybe I should have just raced with the Cat 2's. The next weekend I can race is April 11th. Having a hard time finding any races locally, but there's a 6 hour race over in Charlotte. I have half a mind to head over there for it. I'm torn right now between trying to extend myself a little and train for and race the longer marathon and 100 mile and 6 hour and 12 hour races, or to just stick with the shorter races. I don't have the luxury of consistent training or long hours to spend on the bike and Cross season is still the focus but I'm tempted to try to get in shape for the long one's or at least just start doing 3 laps with the 2's.
This week is the first Biker's Choice Wednesday night Lock 4 ride/Time Trial/Night Ride. I'm "organizing" the session (buying the beer) so I'll be out there all night. 5pm slow lap/mark course. 6pm TT on abbreviated course. 7:30 night ride, 2 or 3 laps. We're planning to do a ride out there every week, possibly only set up the timer every other week or once a month. If you live in the Nashville area and want a gauge of your skills/fitness, this is a great way to do it. You can email me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today's Music: Fleet Foxes. I know that it's not very original or cutting edge of me to be into the Fleet Foxes, but that was the record that really kicked my ass on the ride home last night so I'm spreading it around.