Monday, April 20, 2009

WVMBA #1 - Big Bear

1:34 - 12.9 miles - 12th place Masters

Fifth place last year, 12th this year, but I feel better about my finish this year. Dave and I pulled into BB early and Dave decided to do a last minute tire switch. Braver than me, but it turned out he picked the right tires - it had looked like rain but we were hoping it would hold off.

We warmed up a bit, and then watched the experts start. This year the course didn't take the road to the single track but instead had a mini prologue loop and took the trail backwards into the singletrack.

Sports went off in a staggered start, and I started off with about 18 other "old guys." I tried to not to blow up my legs right away, but it was tough as I could see that I could easily pass some the guys right in front of me. Instead I just tucked in behind a couple of guys and let them slowly pull me for a bit.

Passed a bunch of guys as we went up a short steep climb. So far so good. I was hurting pretty good as we go to the steepest climb up the front side of the race. I could have ridden it, but I think I would've blown out the legs, or the lungs, or something. Jumped off and pushed as fast as I could. Still can't decide if that was the right move.

Got to the top of the course, and either they routed us around some climbs and rock gardens, or I have really improved a lot since last year, but before I knew it was up top by the old airfield. Unfortunately I took too long here recovering, I really should've pushed it here a bit more but was busy trying to refuel.

Headed into the section that has what I call the rollers, again I made up some good time here passing a number of people. But not too many from my category. Went through some rock sections that I was a bit tentative on last year, but this year the new Fox Fork was awesome. I just rolled through it all. The extra inch and the extra stiffness paid off.

Then I headed for the big descent. As I was heading near the steeper stuff, a full-out train of clydesdales caught me from behind. Scary stuff. The one guy yelled out a pass on the left. Unfortunately it just as the course took a sharp right, and he went straight. On cue, his buddy yells out, "Hey, I think you might have wanted to turn right there."

The guys were behind me down the whole descent, and they were trying pass but they were going to have to totally do it on their own. Three quarters of the way down we caught a much slower rider and it got jammed up. The guy was riding the right side of the downhill and as we got to the bottom near the creek bottom the guy veers to the left to get off his bike nicely cutting off three of us. About five more guys pass us. Bad timing.

At this point there was about 15 - 20 minutes left of the race. I tried to hammer the best I could, but I was pretty beat. Ahead of me I see an older rider and push it to catch him. Then he passes me and I notice he's in the beginner category. Made me feel a bit better about being passed.

Unfortunately he passed me in the open field that leads to a fairly rocky entry back in to the woods. I could tell from his riding he wasn't that technical, and as we got close to the rocks he skids to the stop like a six year old and neatly cuts me off. He apologizes, but the damage is done. I have to run the bike over the rocks and finally jump back on.

I had a strong finish, but couldn't catch anyone. Cross the finish line exhausted. I'm not sure I could've pushed it much more. Missed tenth place by one minute, ah well.

Some good omens for the season: Big Bear was the first race this year, and in spite of that and the fact that the course was slower with the prologue start, I rode about six minutes faster than last year. I felt solid during the race, if not fast, very steady with a good pace. New fork and Nevegal tires have been a great addition to the dos Niner. And I was in the race the whole time, passing people, being passed, being less than a minute behind the next riders. Better than in the old days when I basically rode the races not seeing a person.

Looking forward to the next race!

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