Alrighty, so it's been a few months and now I'm back getting into the race season once again. It's been an odd off season as there has been a lot of good training but I feel like I'm lacking some early season efforts to prepare me for the season. Usually by this time in the year I have a couple of good endurance races in that prepare me for the repeated hard efforts that XC brings. The early season of 2011 brought 4 short crits in March that were the only hard efforts before the first H2H race season at the Wawayanda Spring Cleaning race this past weekend. The other change in the early season is that I took a vacation to Costa Rica which was AMAZING. The downside was that it kept me off the bike for 12 days. It definitely put a dent in my early fitness but for the memories that will last a lifetime, it was an easy sacrafice.
Anyway as Wawayanda approached I felt pretty good but like I would be lacking some top end. All it took to find out was to line up and see what happens. I knew the pro field was going to be fast and transition years can be rough but I'm stubborn and really want to do well. I got to the line at the last minute after a good 40 minute warm up and felt kinda scattered and unsure of how the race would go. After all it was only my 3rd ride on dirt this season. So off we went and into a REALLY fast paceline heading though the rocky terrain. The group was TIGHT the entire first lap. Off the line I was 6th, and by the first turn into singletrack I was in 9th or so. I knew it would be a hard effort and I could cruise through the rough stuff so I kept it steady and marked those wheels in front of me. As it got rougher a few in front of me bobbled and I sailed through. By the middle of lap 1 I was in 5th position and feeling good. I just was wondering how the fitness would hold up.
At the start of lap 2 my coach Brian attacked and I held back as a competitor was right behind me and it was a great team tactic. I put a good pace down but didn't put the pedal down. I kept Brian in sight as I gapped the guy behind me and was waiting til the techy parts to try to catch up. I did just that. In the process though I was passed and now in 7th starring at 5th and 6th in front of me. As I was biding my time, my chain dropped for the 10th time or so and jammed between the rings and the frame. It took me a while to get it out. Probably a minute or better just to clear it and get it back on the big ring. I thought 2x10's were supposed to be amazing and trouble free? Guess not...
I kept the pedal down and tried to stay steady but I finished lap 2 in no mans land. The start of lap 3 was when I started to feel the twinge...yup cramps were setting in. The efforts were so hard and frequent that I really had to be careful not to lock up completely. This is where I felt the previous efforts early in the season really helped. I kept on knowing that the guys behind me were charging hard so I rode to the top of my limit without blowing up completely. As I feared 1/3 of the way into the lap I got passed and was sitting in 8th feeling really tired. Now it was survival to get to the end of the race. In the last 1/3 of the race I heard the next disappointing sound, the chain rattling of another racer about to pass me. Yup - with 5 minutes left in the race I couldn't hold the next guy off so he went by and I put every bit of energy left not to get passed any further.
I crossed the line in 9th place of 13 and happy to have the race behind me. http://blackbearcycling.com/wawa11/cat1results.html 2:12 was my finishing time. Looking back at lap times I ran a 40 min then 44 min then 47 min lap time. With the chain dropping on lap 2 it should have been a 42 which was acceptable but then the implosion of lap 3 was evident. More fuel for the next race. Looking back it wasn't a bad effort as I still did pretty well even with mechanical trouble and cramping. It gives more of a hope to see just how things could be if they all go right.