Sunday, September 9, 2007

Palos Race Report

Palos Meltdown
Sport Class, 2 laps, 16 miles
6th 40 - 49, ? overall

Pre race jitters kept me up. It took me a long time to fall asleep and then I woke up at least twice. Anyway, got out to the race at about 8:30. Plenty time to do what I needed to do before the 11:00 Sport start. I checked out the start first, instead of just taking up the Grassy Hill, they took us around and we ended up climbing up it, then coming down it and then climbing up it. This start would ensure that we would be split before hitting the trails.

As we were lining up for the staggered start by age group there were only 2 things I was focused on. The first was something Chris told me yesterday about the difference between road racing and mountain bike racing. On the road, you try to conserve energy as much as possible. Get into a move or break if possible, but otherwise stay near the front, but not necessarily on the front, use the group to recover. In a mountain bike race, at least in a cross country race, there is no conserving, there is only go, go, go until you can't go anymore.

The second thought was that I wanted to be at the front of our group into the first set of single track. I was worried about getting stuck on the Ravines and having to run them. So, my plan was to sprint from the get go.

They started us at 2 minute intervals with the 20+ and the 30+ ahead of us. Denis from On the Route was in the 30+ so I yelled for him as his group rolled off. I got into the front row far to the left which was where I saw the best line. The horn went off and I went as fast as I could, getting the hole shot into the first turn, up the first climb. I was even with another guy at the top, but passed him on the short down and was first the second time up Grassy Hill and was first into the double track.

I got passed by 2 guys right before the single track, tried to stay on them, but no go. They were just faster than I was. I really don't like riding right on someone else's wheel on single track anyway. No where to go if they mess up. That ended up being a crucial mistake because they were gone. I'm now 3rd in my group and I have at least 2, maybe 3 behind me. We started picking off 30+ riders before the wooden bridge.

All through 3 Ravines and Turf I was at the front of this group. Thanks to the guy right behind me who coached me on passing the slower riders. He didn't try to pass me. I would have let him if he asked, but he didn't. Cleared all 3 ravines with little difficulty. By the time I knew it we hit the log on Turf and flew right over it. Then we got onto the blacktop and I hit the gas on the climb dropping the guys I had been with.

Up Grassy Hill strong for lap 2. Tammi and Elora were at the top and I slowed just for s second to make sure Elora knew that I had seen her. Then onto the double track and the single track and I blew up. I got passed by 2 of the guys that I had been with before. So now I am in 5th. I needed to recover. I started crossing off each technical part of the trail in my mind: each ravine, each log etc. Passed a few 30+ guys and just kept pedaling, telling myself that if I could make it out of the single track and on to the climbs, I'd be fine. But, I was hurting. 2 other 40+ guys then passed me. So now I'm 7th.

Made it on to the blacktop climb and passed a few more guys, but not the 2 who just passed me. Over and down, over and down and all I have left is a loop around the parking lot and the Grassy Hill. I catch one of the guys who passed me and I sprint up the hill for the finish.

My strength was the climbing and the flats, but I suffered on the technical stuff having to slow way down and that's where I lost time and a potential podium spot.

Cograts to CAMBR for pulling off this event. The course was great. Everything appeared to go off with out a hitch.

Honestly though, this race hurt. I don't think I have ever gone that fast on the mountian bike before. I would definitely do it again.


Matt said...

Congrats on the first mtb race, Jim. Yeah the ability to feel comfortable while throwing you and the bike at full speed on techy areas of the trail is hard to do. I have a very hard time with it myself and usually try to make up for being conservative by attacking the climbs. Some courses it works others it doesn't.

Radio Freddy said...

Nice work Jim. Chris is a great coach and his experience is priceless. I hope this was the first of many. - RF