Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ahhh Windham Worlds...

My day started at 2:30 am with a nice alarm and a restless night's sleep. By 3 my pancakes were made and by 3:15 the car was loaded. By 4 I met up with my teammate and his girl and we were off to worlds. Our race was at 8 am and we needed to get there to pick up our numbers and transponders and warm up to take the line. We arrived at 6 with plenty of time to do all of the above but somehow things took longer than anticipated and the warmup suffered. Ok not such a big deal. We had 4 - 3.5 mile laps and a field of around 50 or so. I figured that the first lap would be hot but I'd warm up through the race and things would heat up later.

The start comes and we're off. My legs weren't ready so I took a nice consistent pace and settled into the first climb in 15th. I wasn't worried as there was lots of climbing and I'd knew I'd get a bunch more spots on the steep ups. The plan was working nicely. By the end of lap one I was 9th and gaining ground as those that went out too fast faded. A few passed and I got a few back and now I was sitting about 7th with the lead group not far off. I figure I'd stay strong and pick more off when I could and I was feeling alright. Signs were good for a great race. The downhill came on the 2nd lap and something didn't agree with my rear tire. I had just made a great pass to get that 7th spot and drilled the downhill. I had a big gap for the next climb where I was hoping to get some more spots but that was not to be today. My tire was flat. It still had some pressure as I took the wheel off so I blasted it with co2 and put it back on for it to make it 200 feet further before it was down again.

So now I throw a tube in there and fill the tire. Great, now it wouldn't go back on easily. I fiddle and curse at the tire a bit and it finally goes in. So I jump back in and start lap 3 WAAAAAAAAAAAY behind. I was now probably last or close to it. I lost a ton of time with both wheel fixes. Whatever. I set my mind to it and ramp it up and get back out there. I pick off a bunch of riders in my group as well as others and start making a nice pace just to save face. It was nowhere near the ride I had been throwing down earlier but at least I'd finish and save face and maybe beat a few people. That worked well until the downhill of lap 3. Flat #3 Mother F'R!!! I was really pissed this time and audibly yelling in the woods. So once again I took a few more minutes to fix my tire and got rolling again. The tire was at about 50 psi this time so I figured it wouldn't blow. If it did I was running.

So I get to the start of lap 4 and I knew my teammate Lucky passed me as I had the flat so my new goal was to gap up to him and finish this dreaded race. On the first climb I hit it hard and no Lucky. Second climb - no Lucky. Damn he was riding well. Third climb - no lucky - 4th no lucky. The final climb to the top. There's my bitch :-) I saw him and laid it down. Closed it down on the climb and there was no one around us. At this point we both just wanted to finish so we rode smooth through the remaining course and went on to finish this dreaded race. He was having a blast and I had a miserable day so we rolled to the line him a length ahead of me. 35th and 36th of 42 finishers reportedly. So at least I wasn't DFL.

I was disappointed on one hand but excited on the other. My lung felt a whole lot better today and I was climbing well. My recovery felt better than the 909 race and that should set me up nicely for the Blue Mtn race. Race efforts have been the only time I've felt the effects of the embolism and they seem to be dwindling. I've got some gas in store and some pent up frustration to let out at Blue. It's going to be throw down time. 2 more weeks of recovery and efforts will set up nice for the remainder of the H2H season.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Let There be Hillz

This past week of normalcy has been nice except for the normal part. I got a lot of work done and a few good rides. It felt pretty good to get back into the swing of things - except for the work part - as I need to start paying some bills. I'm eagerly thinking ahead and starting to look ahead to next weekend. This weekend I'll be doing some workouts and getting some good saddle time in to get me prepared for what's ahead: Windham Worlds.

Looking over the site I checked out the course profile and I like what I see. I've been doing well with the climbing races and this one seems right up my alley. Something like 500 of vert right out of the gate for 2 miles sounds like fun. 4 laps of this heaven would work to my advantage. Hopefully my lung goes along for the ride on this one. For the 909 race last weekend I felt pretty good but not 100% for sure. Hopefully for Windham I'll be closer to the 100% side of things and be able to climb like normal. Last week it felt like I could go hard and not recover quickly. I'll need that ability to do well on this course. Tomorrow will be 4 weeks since my embolism and the saturday before windham will be 5 weeks so that should be enough to make some gains I hope. Only time will tell.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Comeback...

With the doctor telling me to resume normal workouts and such and feeling pretty decent prior to the 909 race, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and give it a go. I didn't know how my top end would be with a full race effort but I wanted to feel normal again and get out there. My plan was to give it what I had and if my body gave me any ill effects I would pull the plug and pedal easy to the finish or DNF if I had to. With that contingency plan and a big wad of extra tape on my seatpost(to keep my thin blood in if I had a bad fall) I decided to line up and lay it down.

I had an amazing day from the start. Once I got to the park I picked up my number and was sitting on the line again all was right in the world. I know it has only been 3 weeks since I was in the hospital for my blood clot but I didn't think I'd see the mtb any more this season. Seeing all my friends out there again was a very good feeling. It was nice just to be there and however the race unfolded was a bonus.

So from the start as we hit the uphill drag race I figured I'd punch it and see how it goes and I rounded the scoring tent in 3rd wheel. As we got through the first singletrack I was 2nd wheel, and by the first really tight and windy singletrack I was 1st wheel. Ok so things weren't going too badly. So I kept a decent pace but soon realized I wasn't 100%. I didn't feel bad but my top end was not there and probably because my lung isn't fully healed. I don't think I was absorbing enough oxygen like I normally do. Anyway, that aside, I start to ease back as John Arias and Ross got Anderson came by and over one of the next ledges my bike ghost shifts like it did the whole first part of the lap(gotta love that) and my chain explodes. Not only did it separate but the pin from the open end was lodged in the other end of the chain. So I had to chase the pins out of both ends and after I dropped the quick links like 5 times I was back on the chase after probably 4 minutes of fixing it(After some research it seems it was over 5 minutes, my GPS recorded 2:18 and my finish time was 2:23 according to scorekeeping). By this time I think I was in dead last or close as EVERYONE passed me.

So now the race started again. It was like a severely penalized slow motion start. I had to stay steady and pick off as many as I could one by one and that's what I did. I wouldn't say I was riding fast but I was riding well, consistent, and felt really comfortable out there. I was climbing hard but really couldn't recover like I normally could. In the past I felt I could give it all I had on a climb and then crest recover and go again. Not so much this time. That was the biggest difference I felt. So I rode to my new limit and I passed when I could and could have used one more lap as I didn't realize the group ahead of me was so close. I chased back up to 9th of 22 starters I believe.

Looking back over the results, and riding how I did should have put me in 5th place or maybe even 4th if my chain had not failed. So that's the most promising bit. If I can get this engine fired up again I'll be in good shape. Plus it doesn't help that after my embolism, my diet has not been the best. I did this race a full 10 lbs heavier than I've been racing regularly. That had an effect as well I'm sure. That's changing as we speak. The diet is on lockdown and the pounds will be shedding ASAP.

All in all a truly amazing day, race, and scene all together. Thanks so much for all the well wishes and everyone for checking up on me to make sure I was ok. I think we even had a little gentlemen's agreement on the line that if anybody saw me die out there they would sprint ahead for I knew there was a lot of love in the group.