Sunday, April 22, 2007

WVMBA #2 - Big Bear

13th place Sport Masters - 1:55.06 - 15.5 miles

The Wednesday before the race, I take a leisurely road ride. I hit some gravel on the side of the road and my bike is swept out from under me. My left leg goes down by reflex and I feel my knee twist on impact. Unbelievable.

I was able to pedal home with some pain. Knee swelled up, as I knew it would. All this training over the winter, and I sprain my knee right before one of my favorite races. Well, ice, ibuprofin, and keeping it raised the rest of the week helps quite a bit. But the knee is still swollen on Sunday morning, but not much pain. I decide to go to Big Bear to race.

I pull in Sunday morning, and register. Just like the year before, I overhear they will move the start time from 11:30 to 12:00. Not sure why they don't announce it to everyone immediately. I go for my warm up ride and meet up with some other racers. On the way back I do some full intensity sprints. All warmed up. I get to the start line to hear the pre-race instructions.

I then also realize that I have no back brakes! The lever goes down to the handlebar. I figure the line needs bleeding. No time for that. I decide to ride with no back brakes and a swollen knee. I figure at least I'll get a ride in. The weather's great and I love the trail.

Experts are released, and all of us sport riders immediately afterwards. We ride about a mile or so on the road, then turn right on to a fire road for another mile. This really helps spread out the field some. Sport riders take a left into the single track, the experts continue on.

This year the rerouted the beginner riders, so there's not a huge jam up as I enter the single track. My knee is feeling good, and I'm finding I don't need the rear brakes much. I didn't get the fastest start off the starting line, but it was nice and steady. I see the first hill in front of me. I remember last year having to walk this hill. This year I'm able to ride it!! I pass about half a dozen riders on this section. Not sure what class they're in though.

This hill leads into two other hills, and I think I made it up all of it. I make it to the top of the ridge, and try to catch the riders way in front of me. In no time at all I arrive at the weird bridge that you have to ride up and over. Last year, I felt like it took forever to get here. I exit the bridge and turn left and don't' see the trail. I ask the volunteer there if I'm going the right way, and he points me to the correct trail. Hmm, he might have volunteered that information.

I head down the first real downhill section. I'm making good time with only the front brakes surprisingly. Make it pretty well through the mud swamp at the bottom, do pretty well clearing slick rocks up and out of the mud, but then rear tire slips and I step off the pedal. A female rider then passes me, just like last year. Very ironic.

Next enter into a section of ups and downs. I remember last year not riding up all of them, and having to rest my back at the top of each one. This year I ride up every one of them, and though my back hurts a bit, it's not nearly as bad as last year, and so I don't have to waste time stretching my back!

The other great thing? I'm passing riders, riders are passing me. Yeah, this is what racing is supposed to be like, but last year I don't think I even saw anyone once I got 3 miles into the race.

I make it up to the first water station and head in to the pine forest section. I realize I have expert riders passing me. The nice thing? Last year I got to this section so late that all of the expert riders had rejoined the loop before me and never saw one of them.

At this point I'm passing riders that are completely bonked. Not sure if they're in my class, but it's nice to see my pace worked out well.

Enter in to the long decent that eventually leads to the finish line. Clean most of it with only the front brake, but at a much slower speed than I'd like. There are two sections where it's safer to just walk my bike down. Wasted some time, but at least no wrecks.

Exit the creek bed and onto a fire road. Still in the midst of a lot of riders, this is much more fun! Last big downhill, and I have to walk my bike down a steep hill to the dam, more time wasted. After a few miles I see the finish line, and there are actually still people there watching us finish, lol. As I enter the final climb, my chain drops off. A rider catches and passes me. I get the chain on and finish right behind him. Luckily not in my class.

Well, I finish in 13th place, and easily could've been in 10th place with brakes. Ah well, at least no dnf. Finished in time of 1:55, last year on the same course it took me 2:11. It's nice to see the training plan pay off. I had lost 7 pounds over the winter, rode a lot on the stationary, figured out a stretch to help my sciatic nerve, and tweaked my bike fit to be more efficient.

What a fun race!!!

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