Monday, January 11, 2016
9 days into 2016 and I rode my first race of the season.
I left Asheville and headed down to Georgia. Switching between country music and classic rock for the 4 hr drive and cruising with traffic. I had considered trying to carpool with some other folks headed down for the race, but sometimes a guy just needs to be alone. Its good to clear the head and not have to worry about anyone else for just a little while.
I got to Dalton, checked in at the hotel. This time, I brought some pre made spaghetti and salad with me, and I went ahead and ate that before heading up to check in. I picked up my number and my shirt and met up with Ron Marcus who was providing shuttle for me. We made plans to meet at 6:30am and head out to the start. Daryl would also be joining us for the ride out.
Back to the hotel room and lights out by 8pm.
I managed to get some sleep until around 2 am, then it was dozing and waking until my wake up time of 5am. I wish I was better at early mornings but I suffer. As long as I can remember, I have struggled with early morning. Hungry, but nauseous. Can't eat, so I nibble and try to get some food down, because if I don't, I get car sick on the way to the venue. Ugh. I need to figure out what to do here.....
I met up with Ron and Daryl and we headed out to the start. I focused on relaxing and sipped water. I was really glad 30 minutes later and I was intact when we pulled into the gravel lot. Ron is a smooth driver and I was grateful.
I rode around the lot warming up and then lined up to start around 10th. I took off and got into a rythym ready to ride my pace. I really love the GA mountains and planned to ride my own pace and enjoy the views.
For the first hour, I was feeling pretty rough. Still nibbling and sipping liquids. I felt so rough that I contemplated quitting. I knew that if I did not start feeling better, this would turn into an epic hike a bike. I kept eating and sipping and after around 2 hrs, I arrived at the midway point. I felt slightly better so swapped bottles and moved on. I might have been able to save 1-2 minutes here but as first I could not find my bag that was covered up with a sign, and then I fumbled with getting the bag open and bottles swapped. A volunteer finally came over to help out. I was grateful for that.
The temperature was between 40-50 with some wind up on the ridges. Perfect for me. The course was mostly dry too. Today would be the day for a PR.... I only lacked the fitness. Not a big deal.
Up and down, along the ridge, soaking it in and having fun. I maintained my pace and managed my nutrition and I started feeling better.
Up the last gravel climb and a left onto the last 8 mile section. It is a really fun ridge line ride with lots of techiness mixed with some smooth fast single track. I maintained my pace until I passed the fire ring. Sweet, 1 mile to go, I told myself in my head. I picked up the pace and started to hammer. After a mile, I was still a couple of climbs from the towers that mark the final decent to the finish. Crap, that fire ring marks 5 to go, not one. I slowed down again and resumed my pace.
Finally I rounded the bend and headed up the last climb past the towers. I took it easy on the gravel decent, lots of fresh loose gravel there and hit the pavement. I took up the whole lane and got up over 39mph. Rounding the last bend, and crossing the finish line, I wasn't sure if I had broken 4 hrs. It was really close.
I felt great and I was pleased with the ride. I felt more confident on the technical sections and was able to climb at a steady pace.
After hanging out for a while at the finish, I turned the van north and headed home. It turned out that Jamie Bookwalter needed a ride up to East Ridge, so I dropped her off on the way by, grabbed a double tall mocha from Starbucks, cranked up the country music, and put the pedal to the metal.
I found out on Sunday, that I got second place in the single speed category!
Edit: 34 miler, 4hrs 3 mins
Posted by Stephen at 8:42 AM