Wednesday, August 25, 2010

and that's a wrap

Sunday was my last mountain bike race of the season - Cranky Monkey at Fountainhead.  I've raced there before.  I've won there before.  The course was a given. The weather was not - after late night and early morning deliberating, they ran the race.  No significant rain, even with the 70% chance of morning thunderstorms.  Awesome.

Last year, I raced the same course with about the same lap traffic on the same bike with the same wheels in similar weather with a similarly dry and sandy course.  So the goal was simple.  Beat last year's time.  Hopefully by a lot. 

Off the gun with the clydesdales, we rolled along about a mile of road before dropping into singletrack.  5 of them were off the front, I was in no man's land, and some other guys and the rest of the gals were somewhere behind me.  I tried to hit my pushing-it-but-not-blowing up pace.  I've raced a bunch of the long races, which is great - gave me the confidence to know that even if I blew up completely, I'd have legs to finish the race. 
Photo thanks to Andrew Burnette
Fountainhead has sandy corners and loads of roots, some a bit washed out.  What I'd forgotten, though, was how many little climbs are thrown in there.  The first 2 and last 2 miles of each lap are up-down-up-down-up-down.  I was riding well technically, but not fantastic, and felt like I was at my speed limit on some of the tighter downhills and turns.  After a summer of really hot long races, I have to say I barely have to think about the nutrition part anymore.  Drink heed.  Drink Perpetuem.  Eat something with salt and caffeine in it.  Take electrolytes. 

I didn't see another woman after the start.  And there were few rabbits in the woods.  I passed some guys from earlier waves but didn't ride with anyone for any length of time.  After the Big Bear race where I had a buddy for like 30 miles, it was a bit odd.  But nice to flow through the sections in my own head, choosing lines, changing gears, making my own mistakes.  I wound up 44th out of 77 starters for the 9:45 sport race.  Cool.  I'm getting faster than some of the guys...

Yes, I won.  It's funny how different race series have different speeds - the Cranky series is definitely slower, than, for instance, the Sport 35+ MASS women who fly by me at every race.  But it wasn't about who I was racing.  It was about the time.  Am I faster than last year's 1:56:59?  Yeah.  Finished in 1:49:43, more than 7 minutes faster.  That works out to 6.2% faster.  I probably have to improve that much again to be competitive in the expert fields, slow fields or not. 

Mmm... cold coke.  The best finish line drink, ever.

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