Sunday, June 10, 2012

Would you like to bump and grind on me?

Last weekend was the first expert/cat 1 mtb race that I have done in years. I have been riding a good amount, with a few bumps in the road but still with one goal to be competitive again.
As my first race back,  I chose Bump and Grind. I never thought that it was a dumb idea or thought maybe I should start with another one. No I thought the hardest xc mtb race in the southeast would be a good idea.
So the uh oh Oreo crew (kayla, tyrell, and I) left early Saturday and headed to Pelham, home of Oak Mtn State Park. After I arriving to beautiful weather, I find Berg and try to arrange a pre ride. As it turns out cat 1/ pro classes was a 1 lap 31 mile loop.  Instead of doing the traditional start that follows the lake, they have you do a 180 and go up the pavement to Jekyll and Hyde. What I didn't realize till the top of the climb was that it was the downhill course backwards. After asking Victor Alber like 3 times if we were really going to the right way they finally told me the whole loop. We were going the right way and I had to have looked like a deer in the head lights. I was in shock and thinking what have I gotten myself into. "I am not sure this was a good idea coming here to race,""I can't make it up this climb on a pre ride?" "wtf am I going to do tomorrow with a whole class of riders?" "I sound like Jim" "stop thinking"

Went up this!
So in a nut shell this is what the course route was. Up Jekyll and Hyde, then take a right immediately into blood rock followed by the traditional single track towards the finish. Instead of going to the finish line they had you turn left and do all the single track around the lack towards the single track that we use to start with. This was followed by the 3 mile climb then back down Jekyll and Hyde to the finish.
After learning the loop direction from Victor, I realize that if I wanted to pre ride everything it would be basically a 31 mile ride. Not happening! I end up riding just the new stuff in effort to stay as fresh as possible for the race. I split off from David who was doing the super D, which he apparently won and had the fastest time of anyone. I end up ride by myself with thoughts continuing to run through my head. "this is dumb and I am retarded!"
I get to the hotel call my dad who basically says don't be a pussy but in nice way and we talk strategy. I then complain to Jim and Worm. Worm thankfully calls and we chat and it made me relax and stop thinking about the race. Thanks big man.
The rest of the evening was spent at the summit shopping and eating with the uh oh oreo crew. It was nice having them a long for the trip, it took the mind off racing because they couldn't complain with me and worry about the trail. They were more worried about there food selection and choice of cheesecake at the cheesecake factory. This was my selection: Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake! its amazing!
Race day came and it was beautiful day with no clouds and actually started off a little chilly. I scrambled around for an hour before the race with a flat tire, trying to eat and just trying to get everything ready. I was still able to get about a 15 min warm up but it felt like time was fast forward and I had butterflies.
I Roll up to the line and it is probably the most stacked expert class that I have ever rode in at bump and maybe anywhere. I just kept think ahhhh shit give me break! There were 5 different people that I heard of and knew that they had a chance of winning, but the creeper Andy Johnston was definitely the favorite.
Gun goes off and the butterflies can finally fly loose and leave my stomach. The new start was surprisingly smooth and not crazy. Everyone kinda knew where they were suppose to be going into the woods. I was right where I wanted to be sitting 6th (13 total in my class plus the 30-34 experts) going in to the woods. I quickly got into a rhythm that I hadn't been able to do the day before and felt pretty competitive. We hit the Hyde part of the trail with the uphill rock gardens and I clear almost every thing other than a few spots where I was wasn't given a chance to because of people in front of me making mistakes. I was feeling pretty damn happy and the confidence was starting to build because I could still see the tail end of the lead group as they were turning off of Jekyll and Hyde to blood rock. I kept thinking relax breathe catch you breath on blood rock and the part after it and find my own pace. Then I will worry about the people in front of me and behind me. The bad news is that never happened. After making it down blood rock, I made it around a few of the big downhill sweeping corners and was doing fine just letting the bike roll and leting it do its own thing. Well I guess I should have braked more. I hit one of the rock water bars awkwardly and came out of the main line and immediately knew it wasn't going to be good. I came down out of the main line and the rear tire went flat. I got to a stop as soon as I could and tried to stay as calm as possible and not freak out while changing the flat. Flat fix went really quick and seamlessly. So I am thinking ok the bad luck is out of the way now and its time to try and make up as many spots as possible now that I was sitting last. But I never get that chance as well. I made it another couple hundred yards down the same descent and the front tire goes flat. I already used my spare so I start walking the trail in hope that someone will give me a tube. One issue was that almost everyone had already gone by me as a result of expert doing a completely different loop. Only 3-4 riders come by me they are all on 29ers fuck! everyone offers a tube but can't use it. I know you can make it work in a 26 but I have never done it before and know it won't last long on a course this rough. So after that I walk another 1/4 mile, finally some recreational riders on $500 treks come by and I beg and plead and they give me a tube. He pulls it out and I see a patch right away and think there is no way this will last but thank them and proceed to fix the flat. The tube holds up and I continue on the long journey by myself. I see kayla and tyrell at the first neutral feed stop. I get a fresh bottle, a kiss on the cheek, and find out that I am 30-45 mins behind anyone. I do continue on and I pass two people not in my class. Other than that I see no one. I try to stay motivated and ride hard but its really hard to. All I am thinking is Jim's ugly ass face saying something about dnfing, Korecky jinxing me at zone 5, and how I am going to write this blog.

I end up have a smooth rest of my now training ride with no issues and come in about 50 mins behind the winner  the creeper. I surprisingly stayed calm and never really let the flat piss me off. I did dwelled on it but there wasn't really much I could have done. Shit happens and I have to move one. The bad news was I never really found out where my fitness was. I came into the race with questions and and left with more. Could I have kept that pace after the start and been competitive? I don't know? I don't think I could have touched the top 4 or five but I would have liked to have known how far off my fitness was.
All I know is that I will keep training and look forward to my next race, which is probably arrowhead.