Sunday, May 9, 2010

20 miles of michaux... without the rain!

I've been riding, racing, working, training, and generally enjoying life so much lately that I haven't been blogging much.  But I promised myself when I started it that this blog isn't really about other people reading it... it's about reflecting on my experiences and races, thinking, feeling, remembering...

Last weekend was the Michaux Maximus race.  Last year, it was a mud fest.  In the rain.  Cold rain.  It was one of the two times I can ever remember considering putting my bike on the side of the trail and leaving it there.  The best and pretty much only good part of that day was rolling in and seeing that Shea had won the 10-miler overall.

This year was WAY better.  Weather was perfect - a bit misty at times, overcast, and warm.  Trails were perfect.  A great field of 9 women showed up for the 20 mile race - including a few local expert riders.  Michaux is a little different in that instead of Beginner/Sport/Expert categories, they go by distance.  There's an unspoken rule that Expert racers don't race the 10 mile race, but other than that, people do what they want. 

My goal was to ride, just ride it, finish it, ride smart in the technical sections (okay, so at Michaux that's pretty much everything except a couple miles of fire road).  I definitely wound up at race pace for most of the race, with an overall average heart rate near what I've put out at other races this year.  Even better - I finished the first 10 miles nearly an hour faster than last year and came in well under my soft goal of 4 hours, partly because they cut out a tough section at the end.

Here's the thing - it was a blast.  A total fun day. Early on, a guy was on my wheel and commented that "that 29er just takes off downhill" - I don't always do the Superfly justice, but I love gravity.  I rode with a teammate Phil for a few minutes until he crashed and then got a branch stuck all in about 5 minutes and had to slow down for a bit. I passed some guys while we were hike-a-biking uphill. I passed a few hike-a-biking while I was still riding (!). 

About 15 miles in, I found some guys, including a Winchester Wheelman or two that were happy hanging on my wheel and with my pace.  That makes me ride faster but within myself.  I was surprised to see a few of the guys I'd been back and forth with stop at the aid station about 3 miles from the finish.  I had plenty of Heed in my camelbak still and wanted to keep rolling.  Turns out it was 3 miles uphill, but all fire road - I still had a bit left in the tank when I saw the sign for the turn to the finish.  I'd been thinking I was in for some more tough singletrack.  I was thrilled to finish. 

Truly thrilled - like tears in my eyes as silly as that is.  I finished in under 3 hours to wind up in 4th!  One of the really strong riders wound up DNF'ing with a busted derailleur, so that was pretty much middle of the pack and happy with it.

I was sore for a while.  Not as sore as I am after this weekend's adventures, but definitely fatigued.

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