Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Valley Falls Race - WVMBA

Valley Falls - 1:47 - 14 miles - 4th place master's sport

Two weeks off the bike while on vacation, a couple of short rides, and then I found myself driving down to a WVMBA race with 1,700 ft. of climbing. Not the kind of race preparation that I would've planned.

I arrived at Valley Falls State Park, WV early, parked, and made my way to register. From the beginning things looked well-organized. And actually got a t shirt that I can see myself wearing.

Talked with a racer that I had met in previous years. I thought he had had a green Salsa dos Niner, but this time he had an orange one. He told me he had cracked the frame and Salsa sent him a new one. He looked at my bike, and said that I had a crack too. I laughed thinking he was kidding. Glanced over to the bracket that holds the relish shock, and there it was - a hairline crack. I never would've seen it on my own. The crack was in the weld and appeared that it would hold up for the race, I hoped.

All the other usual suspects arrived and got ready for the race. Experts were to do two laps, sport one and a half, beginners one lap. Sport started half way up the hill, so we rode up and awaited the experts (who started at the base of the climb) to begin. As the experts rode up by us, I could see the pain etched on their faces. I knew right away that the beginning was going to be tough.

We started soon after, and since I had been watching the Tour de France, I decided I would do some drafting. Not sure if I really drafted or not, we weren't going fast, but I began the steep road climb at a moderate pace. I would stay on someone's wheel, trying not to blow up my legs, and then leap frog up to another rider. Passed a good number of people like this.

We then entered the singletrack and began winding back down the hill. It was here that I passed Josh who was racing Dave in the sport vets class. They had a 26v29 battle going. Oh yeah, the only reason I passed Josh was that his chain had broken, not because of my blazing speed.

The course kept dumping us on to double track roads which some might have found boring, but it made it easy to pass people, and an easy place to stretch my back. In fact I had very little back pain probably due to this.

Climing, and lots of it. Some climbs I grunted my way up, others were so steep it wasn't worth the effort. I kept a very steady pace the whole way through the race. My nutrition change to Hammer products, and more to the point, my pinpointing what nutrition was needed at what time, really was evident in this race. I never got dehydrated, never lost my focus.

Fourteen miles never felt so long. I saw beginners on big huck bikes talking about how the trails sucked. Of course trying to ride those 40 pound behemoths on those trails would of course make it suck. I saw Josh pass me looking for Dave. I told a kid volunteering at an aid station to throw the cup of water right on my head. He didn't think I was serious. I was deadly serious.

I pushed it really hard for the last quarter of the race, and considering not riding the bike at all while on vacation, I was happy with how I rode. Dave came in first in his division. Josh came in I think seventh, which was good considering his mechanical. Don and Aaron came in the top ten of the expert division which is impressive.

Ate tons of food, checked out everyone's race times on the big monitor they have for us (way better than peering over the judge's shoulder for a peek at his/her laptop). Loaded up and went home, another race in the bag.

Update on the bike: Salsa had me send back the frame, and I'm awaiting a new frame. Everything covered under the warranty, I hope it gets here soon so I can get it built up. I've been riding my old Gary Fisher Cake, and it makes me realize all the more how much I love my Dos Niner.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah I couldn't get anything out of drafting on that hill climb but on some of that semi-rocky down sloping double track after the parking lot; drafting worked really well there. That may be the first time I ever did that in a mtb race outside of pavement. Drafting someone on fast double track is usually a pretty risky idea but it worked there.