Lining up with all the fast locals at the race on Friday, I was excited to get going. It was hot and humid and the pace was going to be fast. With 5 miles of pavement then one steep climb before the single track, I knew that I needed to get in with a fast group and draft to conserve energy.
We took two laps around the Mellowdrome. I had flashbacks of when I raced fixed gear out there a couple of years ago. The pace was already high, higher than I would have liked, but I i was feeling ok so far.
As we took the right turn out of the track and onto the greenway, the experts laid the hammer down and were gone. I was left in no mans land with a couple of other guys so I tucked in. After a couple of miles we were caught by a group of about 5. I pulled some and drafted some. Patrick Mcmahon was in the group. As we turned left and up the hill, I needed to recover. But a steep hill is a bad place to recover, so I just put it in an easy gear and kept it steady. My HR was well above target range for an endurance race, but this race was going to last less than 2 hrs.
My only concern was that I had forgotten my Camelbak at the office. It is in the freezer, probably frozen solid by now. I had called Rhonda and asked her to bring an extra bottle of nuun and a bottle of water. I think that I have figured out how much plain water vs sports drink I need to be drinking. I was carrying 1 bottle of water and 2 bottles of nuun. I was going to be a little short on water.
As I topped out on the steep hill and coasted down into the park, I noted that I was not sweating and realized that I should slow down. Interestingly enough, as soon as my HR dropped to 154 I started sweating.
The single track was some of the most fun trail that I have ridden in a long time. Tight and twisty yet lots of flow. We were doing 3 laps on the 3 mile course. It took the majority of the first lap to get the feel of the trail and relax.
Starting the second lap, the looming thunderstorm let loose. Several lightning bolts hit within 20-30 feet and I was thankful for the huge drops of rain that started falling. By the end of the 2nd lap, it was dumping on us and my temp was regulated. If the heat had continued I would have been limping home. But the drenching rain, even though it turned the trails to mud, was good for me.
Halfway through the 3rd lap, I caught D-Dub!! He was riding a single speed cross bike and moving along pretty well. I got passed him and managed to stay ahead for a little while. Coming out of the single track, I downed a Honey Stinger: Ginsting
and back onto the pavement he caught me. He is a really nice guy with a really nice family. He is also as strong and fast as a gazelle. I figured he would drop me when the pavement flattened out. To my surprise and to which I was very grateful, at the bottom of the hill he turned and said "hop on". So, I tucked in and we took off. Rolling around 21-22 mph was a blast. I was at my limit and I needed water. I conserved and drafted. The rain had stopped and I was heating up again. Another rider was about 1/2 mile back and slowly reeling us in. I pulled around to take a pull. I was feeling strong but knew that I could not keep the pace. So, I kept the pace......
I don't know how long it took to get to the right turn on Amboy rd, but we were moving really well. It is such a great feeling to work with someone and share the load, helping each other succeed and reach goals.
In the last mile, the dude caught us. We rolled together until we hit the greenway. D-Dub got the jump and pulled away. I stood up and tried to catch on to no avail. The dude rode around me and caught him. I tried again to catch up but now they were battling out in a sprint finish. I looked over my shoulder to see if there was anyone back there. There was not, so I kept it steady.
The finish line came up quickly with the wife and kid cheering me on.
It was a great race and I have no idea where I placed. As curious as I am to know, it doesn't really matter to me as much as it did in the past. I raced the best race that I could have, with the exception of not having enough water. I did everything else right, pushed myself to the limit.
The Siren 55 SL was amazing on the tight twisty trail. The bike definitely helps me go faster in the woods. It is so stable in the corners and climbed the muddy steep bits while other were walking.
Thanks to Siren Bicycles, Okie Dokies Smokehouse, Liberty Bikes, Kenda, nuun, Honey Stinger, Kinetic Koffee, the wife and kid and all of the others who show up and encourage me to race my bike!!
Have a great day.