Chalk another one up in the win column. I officially took first place at the New Mexico State Championship race, though it's kind of hollow. Another win by default, there's just no racers in the 19-29 Expert this year. Next though, that's when it's going to be fun. Bill will be racing with the big boys, and Michael is planning on upgrading now that he's been on the podium at the last two Sport races. Should be all kinds of fun.
So the actual race. During the warm up, I could feel that my legs weren't going to be in it. I put in a few hard, five minute efforts. My legs were ok, but I could feel they weren't going to stick around. When I got my race number Sunday morning, Angie told me that I was the only one that had pre-registered. "Ok," I thought, "the other guys will be registering this morning." When registration closed, I went and asked if anyone else had registered, and sure enough I was on my own. That changed my plan for the day.
I decided I was going to go out and see how I felt. I'd put in a steady effort for 10 - 15 minutes and if I felt good I'd keep at it, if not I'd just start cruising. The course started with a two mile jeep road climb. The Pros kicked it up from the start and took off. I was just taking it easy through the first wash until we got on the road, then I picked up the pace. I picked off 10 or more riders just setting a nice 90% - 95% pace. We hit the single track and I lost a few spots and just wasn't feeling it. After middle-ringing nearly the entire climb up, I knew I wasn't going to be putting in any unbelievable performance, so I just backed off for a leisurely Sunday ride.
One of the guys from Cruces that pre-rode the course said he did the long loop in two hours just cruising. I felt pretty good when I came through at 1:30 after cruising the last 2/3rd of the course. I went out for my second lap just cruising along the whole lap and put in a time near 1:40 for a total time right at 3:11.
There's a rule that the promoter can shorten an advertised race, and I tried to get Justin to invoke it for me being sick and all, but he had no pity on me and made me do two laps. The cold from last week came up and tightened my breathing during that first lap. The harder I went the harder it was to breath. I could feel my legs starting to burn with the lack of oxygen.
I don't know how I would have finished if I would have been racing someone. It's hard to be motivated when there's no one you have to race against. Well, the thought of nearly 6 hours on the road dead because you left it all out on the course doesn't help your motivation any either.
Given the amount of time I've spent on a bike the last few weeks and especially the last week (nothing since two Thursday's ok), I'm pleased with how I felt on the bike. I ate well, drank well, and had a decent endurance. Didn't have a ton of power, but that didn't surprise me coming off of the cold.
The actual course was great. It's classic Chihuahuan desert mountain bike racing. Always rocky or sandy and sometimes both. Every time you think you've finished climbing, the course turned up again. Hot (low 90s by 10). Technical, and so much fun to ride. I'm certain that if you can ride well in the desert, you can ride anywhere in the country on any type of trail and handle your bike with confidence.
On a sort of related topic, my initial calculations put this as the race that throws me over the top for the NMORS series title for Expert 19 -29. After yesterday's race, I'll have 122 points. There's only three races left, and the closest to me in the race for points is Jay with 38 (last week's Signal Peak Challenge isn't posted on the results site yet). If he sweeps the series from here out he'll have 113. So on paper, I pulled in another of my goals for the season.