Sunday, May 14, 2006

WVMBA - Tomlinson Run

This week's race was at Tomlinson Run State Park. Not far from where I used to work, Linsly Outdoor Center.

Picked my bike up from the shop on the Saturday before the race. They had to fix my rear pivot, dang bike is a lot of problems. Good news, Gary Fisher will be sending me a new rear triangle! Anyway, had to test out pivot and shifting, did a quick five miles around North Park. All seemed to be good, but I was going slow. Found out they had "adjusted" my rear disc brake; it had been rubbing the whole ride. Adjusted it, all good.

Sunday morning out of the house by around 8:30 and arrived at Tomlinson around 9:30. Registered and then noticed that the race director was an old client from the outdoor center. Small world. Warmed up a little bit, went to pre-race meeting, and then to starting line.

The premise: sport riders would have 75 minutes to complete as many laps as possible. If you crossed the line at 74 minutes, you could go ahead and do another lap. If you crossed at 75.01, you were done.

Experts started, and then we sport riders were released one minute later. The start was about a 400 yard spring on pavement before going uphill into some single track. As we approached the single track an expert rider went down hard, blowing out his front tire. What a horrible start for him.

We all got jammed into the single track, and we were off our bikes pushing already. The first part of the race was a gradual 1/2 mile uphill. I rode most of it, but had to get off occasionally for traffic jams and muddy conditions. Trail leveled off and then shortly went uphill again.

Huff, huff, off pushing the bike up some steep muddy hills. Some people passing me, and me passing some people. Lots of people taking spills. I was now happy that I had put on my mud tires. They were heavy, but I had no problem with traction on the downhills. A lot of the spills were from people who had left their race tires on.

Some nice descents, not very technical, and not much room to pass. Dump on to a paved road, and then back up hill into the woods. Over some homemade bridges. Not too slick, surprisingly. Another good downhill and then onto a longer stretch of pavement.

That's when it hit me. My back was not hurting (well not too much)! I had raised my handlebars a bit and moved my saddle up. What a nice surprise. Back into single track along a creek. I knew we were coming to the finish line soon. Short steep uphill, and then to the finish line. I crossed and looked at my watch. Grrr, my stopwatch had accidentally been stopped.

I estimated that I did the first lap in 37 minutes. To be able to do a third lap, I would have to finish my second lap in 38 minutes, I think. I decided to push it as hard as I could.

The start of the second lap went pretty well. Made it up some hills I hadn't been able to the first lap. But I was tired!! Pushing the bike up the steep hills was taking a toll. About half way through the experts began passing me. One expert rode beside me for a while. A couple of logs came. I pulled up my front wheel, and then my rear wheel, losing a little bit of speed. The expert had instead just jumped his whole bike over the logs in one "hop," losing no time at all. I stayed with him on the descent, and the he easily pulled away on the next hill. I'm getting better, but I don't have close to enough power.

Halfway through an older rider passed me, a short bit later I passed him. It went on this way for miles. We had similar pace, so we stayed together most of the second lap. We dumped out on the second stretch of road and I pulled away from him. Quickly though, he passed me easily. I found out later he was 65, and an avid road rider. What an inspiration.

Toward the last two miles I saw a rider ahead of me. I worked hard over the next half mile to catch him. One mile to go, and I was right on his tail. I had been overtaking people on the descents, and I knew one was coming up. We passed a picnic grove moved into the trees and then suddenly he did a U turn. He missed the trail, and I had been so focused on staying with him, I missed it also. Grrrr.

Back into the woods and up the short steep hill to the finish. Finished right behind the "lost" rider. But then they told me to pull over, I had just missed the 75 minute cut-off. I really knew it would be hard to do the second lap as quickly as needed. But I felt good that I had given it my all. And after all it is only May.

Hung out at the finish line and talked with a bunch of people. Talked with the winners of the sport class and vet sport class (my class). Very cool guys, and gave me some good insight. They were both road riders that had moved into mountain biking. Also talked to the older rider. I hope at that age I can still be racing. Everyone was talking about the snake on the trail that had been coiled to strike. Ironically, I never saw it.

Still waiting for the official results to be posted. I really am interested to see how close I was to making the cut-off.

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