Saturday, September 9, 2006

Tour de Strongland

Time 1:38 (flat tire)

Last year, this was my first mountain bike race ever. This year I had a new bike (heavier but with more suspension travel) and I had ridden more than ever. I was excited to see how I would do.

The week before the race I drove to Apollo to do a pre-ride. I ran into a couple that were mountain biking and asked if I could tag along. They ended up being the two race course setters. Though they were older than me, they kicked my butt as I tried to stay within shouting distance of their bikes.

The day of the race I arrive to the race course about an hour early. Register and get a warm up ride in. Right before the beginning of the race, it rains for about 15 minutes. Just long enough to make all of the rocks slick.

This year the experts took off, and we intermediates went about 10 minutes later. As we all took off from the starting line, I realize quickly that the pace is too much for me. But having ridden the trail the week before, I know it's okay.

I keep a steady pace the first mile which is on a gravel road. The course then goes up a short steep hill, and a few people are walking their bikes up the hill because of a couple of new riders that misjudged the hill. This allows me to move closer to the main pack.

The trail then winds and crosses a creek. I do no better with the creek this year than I did last year - I mistakenly pick a line through the deep water. Exit the other side and continue on. Keeping a steady but not too fast pace, I finally catch the main pack in under a mile. My strategy paid off.

The trail now winds its way up through very rocky woods. The hillside and adjoining ridges were at one time an active mine. Did I mention it was really rocky?

Slowly I make up some time, passing about six riders as they hesitated at some of the wood and stone bridges. The obstacles look intimidating, but are surprisingly very ridable.

I'm now starting to feel warmed-up, and pick up the pace a little bit. I then pass another rider who is stranded on the side of the trial fixing a flat tire. The poor sucker, I think to myself laughing. Ah but I've cursed myself. In 100 feet, I realize I too have a flat. I pull off to the side trying to change the tire as quickly as possible. Nineteen minutes later, I'm ready to go. Grrrrr. I can't believe it took me that long, and because I was rushing I don't feel like I got any kind of rest.

At this point I realize I have no chance at finishing anywhere near the main pack. So I ride the rest of the ride as quickly as possible, but never caught anyone else.

I finished in 1:38, but would've been 19 minutes faster without the flat. I rode much better than the prior year. I was in better shape, and my bike and five inches of suspension front and rear handled the course much better. Because I rode at a faster pace, my right lower back was screaming, but I'm starting to become accustomed to it.

I still haven't received the race results, which is what happened last year too. Interested to see where I would've finished.

edit: results received: 1:38.40 Master winner did it in 1:00, 2nd place 1:08, third 1:10 (without a flat, I perhaps might have placed fourth)

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! It was like a real journey for me to go around your personal page! Keep it up! And our term paper service will be always supporting you in this situation!