Well, I finally understand why so many people update their blgos so rarely during the summer months when nationals are in full swing. I spent the majority of the last weeks on the road and there was so much to occupy myself with that this came in somewhere toward the bottom of the list of things to do.
I'll try to write up a bit more about these in individual posts because if I put everything in this one I'd have to talk to a publisher about binding it for sale. Meg wouldn't be happy. :-)
The Deer Valley race in Utah was unbelievable. An hour's worth of climbing (for me taking it easy) followed by some unbelievable downhill fun. Guys like Adam have some unbelievable trails in their back yards. I spent the whole race thinking I was in 2nd because a local guys riding for Jan's was asking around if there were any "other" (I thought anyhow) 19 - 29. He was gone on the climb and I didn't try to stay with him. I was out to finish and just get points, no pressure on it. Turns out he wasn't in my age group and no one else was. Another win for showing up.
Got to watch Jen and Dave Wilson put in good races on Saturday. Dave lost his first national race (the XC on Saturday) of the season by 4 bike lengths, but laid it down on Sunday by attacking on the second lap of the short track just to see how far he could take it. Four laps to go he decided to try to lap the entire field and made it within a 1/4 lap. Jen had another 22nd in the XC on Saturday, finishing with a huge asthma attack.
After watching Dave race Sunday, I headed out to California. Spent some eleven hours on the road. I spent a few hours on the road Monday afternoon getting in some good intervals. I felt great and was amazed at how hard I could push and how high my heart rate would go without loosing my breath. A new sensation after a week in Utah. Some pre-rides of the course had me feeling good on it. There were only a few sections that felt sketchy to me, but they were short enough that I knew I could handle them.
Thursday rolled around. We had 4 guys in my field. Just looking at the competition, I figured Colt was going to be my main competition. I held with him easily through the first climb. We got into into the first single-track, a 22%, fall-line trail. I stood up and my chain slipped. Ok, run to the top and catch up. I chased and we were back together by the time we got through the long climb. As I started the long climb, I felt water trickling down my back. My camelbak bladder had come undone. Half way through my first lap, I'm without water.
No problem, it's cool, there's only 10 minutes til I'm back to the feed zone and I'll swap out packs and hope someone will help me out by refilling this one. Me and Colt role through the feedzone together, and I bail. I lost a minute or two getting that squared away, and his legs started coming on. He was off, and my shifter housing was about to blow. By the end of the second lap I couldn't shift anything but the front unless I was on bumpy terrain. The bumps would knock it into a larger gear in the rear then it'd start shifting ok. Not good.
Colt started pulling away and instead of chasing him down like I should have I took the gamble that since this was his first marathon he'd crack by going out too fast. I went into the preservation mode like this was a 12+ hour race when I should have laid it all out. Could have, should have, would have, though... right?
Colt and Dezmin rode good races. I made a few tactical errors and pile on not being able to use any of my gears for any nuance on the climbs and I floundered. Once I lost track of first, I seriously thought of pulling. I was there for a jersey, and it didn't look like I was going to get that, but two things kept coming back. One, I spent all of last week thinking I was in second until after the race. Maybe this would be a repeat?
Two, I remembered how disappointed I felt with Tyler pulled out of the '04 Tour when it became obvious he wasn't going to win. He later blamed it on his back, but in the interview right after he pulled out of the race he said "I came here to win, not race for second" or something similar. That was the guy who raced through a broken collar bone in '03 just to finish. Now he was quiting because he wasn't going to win. I wasn't going to be that guy, so I plugged away.
I was right at 26 minutes off. Finished 3rd. Not bad, except it was third of three finishers. Yeah yeah, I know. There's how many hundreds of registered racers that could have raced that didn't and I beat all of them just by showing up and finishing.
I'll break this into another post, but I got to watch a great racer and friend get her best finish ever at a national race, 6th in the Women's Pro XC. Jen Wilson really had the ride of her life Friday night and it was great to be a part of it. It was two hours worth of racing, but I'll save that for another post. Hopefully, Dave is the short track champ right now.