Ken gave a solid run down on the format of the two races already, so I’ll jump right into my race report.
I went into the Bacon XC with one goal, to ride hard and place without blowing my legs out for the Trans Stony Superhero Challenge the next day. It seemed to me that the course was pretty short – a little over 6km per loop. Our category was set to do only 3 laps. I thought to myself, “that’s only 20km or so… I ride double or triple that on a weeknight after work. This is going to be a breeze!” haha…
Yeah, well, not so much… I planned to do like Ken, and roll out mid-pack and settle into a rhythm for the first lap. That said, the second we started, I took off! I wasn’t really sure what I was doing; I just knew I wanted to go FAST and pass people.
I passed 3-4 people in the first ¼ of the 1st lap and felt good. I glanced down at my heart rate and saw that it was sitting around 180-190 – high, but not crazy high. I kept crankin’ and passed a couple more people as the 1st lap completed. But then, I felt the legs start to fade on lap two. I wasn’t surprised. I knew it was going to happen somewhat, so I tried not to let up and to keep the pace steady. It was around here that Ken rolled past me on one of the longer climbs. I have to admit, though part of me wanted to surge and pass him back, I was glad. I knew he’d been on my wheel for half an hour or so, and I was starting to feel pretty tapped. The course wasn’t long but it was technical and rough. It beat you up and took its toll on you.
I saw Ken again just a few minutes later though. He’d taken a tumble on a log ramp and was taking a quick breather on the side of the trail. I asked him jokingly as I rode by, “I hope you’re not waiting for me?” And, he wasn’t – not a minute further down the trail Ken passed me again, and I watched him disappear a little more with each turn. By the time I made it out of the twisty, treed section and up into the fields, I figured I wouldn’t see him again till the finish. BUT, as I rolled up one of the steeper grass hills I saw him standing on the sideline again, helmet off and making a ‘cut off’ sign with his hand. My first thought was “what!. I’m cut off!!!!” But then he started clapping and yelling, “come on man! I flatted out. You’re riding for the both of us!”
I felt bad for my buddy. Flatting out is a rip off – a raw deal for sure. As I rode by him though I was so tired, part of me was jealous he was done. My legs were burning from the climb, my lungs were heaving, and my head was starting to pound. I had been going full out for almost an hour. This is a far cry from my usual marathon distance-training pace and my body was pissed right off!
With one lap to go, I just bared down and hung on to the pace as best I could. I wasn’t doing very well though. My legs just wouldn’t respond no matter how hard I tried. One by one, riders started to pass me, 4-5 in total by the end. I faded hard and when I rolled up the ‘Houffalizer’ (evil, evil, evil…) for the third time I was just praying for it all to end. I finished 13/29 and that was hard to swallow given I was holding a top ten place for most of the race and watched it slide away in the last 20 mins or so. Still, it was the first race of the season, and I learned a lot – first and foremost that I need to hold back a bit on the first lap to save some for the end. That, or maybe I just should have had more bacon.
The Trans Stony Superhero Challenge:
Arriving at the course in the morning, I knew I’d failed to meet my goal from the previous day – my legs felt tired. I kept my mouth shut about this for the most part, only making a few subtle comments about wondering how my legs would hold up etc… Truly though, I was concerned. Then we got the bad news; it wasn’t a relay…
We had to both ride simultaneously for the entire 6 hours! All morning I’d been thinking, “ah well, at least I get to break after each lap or two…”, but this wasn’t to be. Instead it would be 6 hours of riding round and round and round… I wasn’t even sure we’d packed enough food for something like that??? Not ones to shy away from a challenge though, never mind a Superhero type challenge we sucked it up and got mentally ready for what was to come.
The start of this race was a whole other animal from the one the day before. If the start of the Bacon was like 30 furious Tasmanian Devils taking off across the fields, then the Trans Stony was like a heard of Water Buffalo, wandering lazily down a single-file trail. We all knew how many hours we had ahead of us, so no one felt any real sense of urgency. That said, our first two lap times were still pretty fast, sitting right around the 30 min mark.
As Ken mentioned in his post, we’d sized up the other teams at the start and felt there was one team for sure that was out of our league, and after the start, we didn’t see them again. We figured they’d just burned off ahead and would stay there for the rest of the day. So thinking that, we settled ourselves comfortably into what we thought was second place. We took breaks every lap. Ate, hydrated and stretched for 2-3 minutes or so. All in all it was a good pace and our lap times were staying fairly consistent. The BIG realization I had though, after 3+ hours of hammering around the course, was that it wasn’t my legs that started to be the real limiting factor – it was my lower back, neck and wrists that were squawking the loudest. It became not so much an issue of fitness in the common sense, but a test of your pain threshold as you bounced and shook around lap, after lap. Sure the legs got tired, and power on the climbs got pretty hard to come by, but it was the general pounding that you took that was the real challenge for sure.
So needless to say, I was more than happy when we completed our eighth lap and figured we had second place locked up; we could get off the bikes and wait it out to see if any of the teams behind us looked like they could catch up. The rain had moved in, winds had picked up and thankfully none of the other teams pressed on. For sure Ken and I could have ground out another couple laps, but it admittedly wouldn’t have been too much fun haha… Ending when we did was pretty perfect actually. It was a hard day. A hard two days in fact, but a blast! Great location. Great organizers, and great prople – racers and volunteer alike. Lookin’ forward to defending the title in 2010 and to placing top ten in the Bacon!