Sunday, May 6, 2007

WVMBA #3 - Henry Clay

11th place Sport Masters - 1:56 - 15.25 mile

I had done a lot of rock climbing at Cooper's Rock State Park years ago, so I was looking forward to this race last year, but I wasn't able to make it. This year, my schedule worked out.

For this race, I had gotten the air out of my brake lines, got these great rotor tools called Drumstix which trued my rotors really nicely, and the swelling in my knee had gone away. Also, after posting some questions online it seemed best that I put on my Panaracer Cinders for this race rather than my Small Block 8s. From all that I heard, it was very rocky. I found out that calling this race rocky was an understatement.

Arrived at Coopers early, registered and went for a warm up ride. As usual, the registration was totally inefficient and the race time got pushed back to 12:30. We parked our vehicles on the Henry Clay road, down in the valley. We rode our bike about a half mile up the road for a mass start. At closer to 12:45 we were ready to go.

The race begins for about two miles all up hill on a paved road; this helps spread people out a bit. It then takes a sharp left into some single track. Once again, I only got an average start, but I've learned that's best for me in the long run. Once in to the single track (Scott's?) the trail flows along some nice single track, either level or downhill. My full suspension with the bigger 2.25 tires paid off immediately. I probably passed 10 people with pinch flats in the first 4 miles. Unfortunately, only one of those people was probably from my class.

I paced myself with a woman rider, one I think I have seen at the other races. Her pace was good for me, and she seemed to know the trails so I followed her lines through the rocky trails. Ahhh yes, the rocks. These trails were incredible rocky. So rocky that at several points my left forearm and hand cramped so bad that I couldn't really grasp the handlebar, I just had to lay my hand on it instead.

Well, in not too long of a time, we started hitting the hilly sections. The hills were steep but at least they had a lot of big rocks on them. Ended up pushing the bike up most of them, but I was not alone at all in this endeavor.

The race was quite a blur from there. Nice singletrack weaving its way through the woods with uphills and downhills throw in for fun. Went out past Raven rocks, did some time on a rails to trails type of trail for a bit, then headed back into the woods.

At this point, I hadn't seen anyone in quite a while and was wondering if I was still on the trail. There were not a lot of trail markers. Finally, saw some people going up a steep hill probably not more than two miles from the race's end. A racer from my class caught up with me. We talked a bit, he passed me. I reeled him in quite a bit, but couldn't pass him at the end. I think he beat my by about 1o seconds.

And speaking of the end of the race, how sadistic. I was exhausted, my fillings were loose from the rocks, and then they have us finish the last couple hundred hard yards right up a steep hill. Luckily they had one of the photographers was there to document me pushing the bike. Got back on the bike and finished the race.

This was probably the most exhausted I had been after a race. I think I gave it all I had. Could only get one piece of pizza down, no appetite. Stopped at Wendy's on the way home, felt sort of dehydrated and light headed. Though it went away after a little bit.

I really liked this course, I think I could do much better on it now that I've ridden it. This year has shown me that I have really improved over last year. I'm not finishing dead last, I'm actually passing people!