Sunday, April 15, 2007

WVMBA #1 - Mountwood

3:04 - 17 miles - 13th place

So a northeaster decides to blow it's way up through West Virginia, and dump loads of rain for days on Parkersburg. For some unknown reason, I wake up on the morning of the race and decide to go anyway.

After a three hour drive, I arrive at Mountwood Park. During the last part of the drive, the rain started again. It was 45 degrees, cold, rainy, miserable - the perfect weather for hypothermia. Resgistered for the race, unfortunately stood in line for 45 minutes getting soaked. Consequently, no real time to warm up. Threw on my gortex jacket and made my way to the start line.

I was in the fourth group released (sport masters 45+). The race headed up a gravel road for quite a while in an effort to spread the group out some. Headed into the single track to find some of the muddiest riding I've ever done. I can only guess the 60-75 riders released before me had a better trail than I did.

The first part of the race, about 6 miles was on one side of the ridge. We then had to cross back over the main road to the other side of the race course. The starter guessed that the loop was about 14 miles total. I was soon to find out he was wrong.

The first six miles went pretty well. I passed some people, some passed me. The second "half" of the ride was rather miserable. Very muddy trails, which turned my bike basically into a single speed. Every time I tried to shift on the chain rings, the chain would drop off. So I stayed in the middle chain ring the rest of the race. I could get about 3 gears on the rear cog. Every hill I came to, I pretty much had to walk my bike up it.

One woman caught me. She had been gaining on me for miles. Tried to hold her off, she never rode really fast, but never had to get off her bike. She could make it up many more hills than me and was just steady. I learned something from it.

Over the next hour, I finally caught back up to her. More for the fact that she got tired, not due to my biking prowess. We pretty much finished the race together. At least I had someone to talk to. Passed another young woman who looked like she was at the end of her rope. I asked if she was okay, she said she was starving. I gave her a GU, it made her day. Saw her at the end of the race, she looked completely different. Her eyes weren't dulled, she had some energy back in her. She said I saved her life.

The end of the race had us crossing a creek, like I need to be more wet. Got to the finish line and had to stop for them to take the ticket from my back. My legs started cramping really bad. I thought about how embarrassing it would be to drop over right there, not able to straighten my legs.

It took me three hours to finish the race. It was not 14 but 17 miles, and those last three miles were killers. In the end I'm glad I did it. It was quite the experience. I finished near the end of my class, but really could have been three places better had my rear brake not gone out near the end. I would love to go back to Mountwood in some dry weather, the course would be great I bet.

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