Friday, April 23, 2010

WVMBA #1 Big Bear 2010

5th place Masters - 1:47 - 14.4 miles

Oh sweet relief! I had so much fun at this race - what a nice change. For the last several years I've had chronic back pain from a pinched nerve. I've tried everything, physical therapy, weights, anti-inflammatories, yoga, professional bike fits, and nothing has worked. Always at some point in the race, the pressure on the nerve becomes so bad that I either have to jump off the bike and stretch or ease up enough on the pedals to take the pressure off. But I finally got it solved. I've had my handlebars pretty high up on my bike, but in a moment of desperation I threw on a pair of riser bars. I did a quick 30 minute ride on Friday to see what it felt like, and almost no back pain. But that was such a short ride. Ok, time to race and see what happens.

Big Bear is one of my favorite courses, but it comes so early in the year often I don't feel ready. I got down to BB really early so that I could do a real warm-up. I took a good ride to loosen up, and then I had a really good stretch session (mini-vans are great). Keeping my back warm would be hard as it was 38 degrees with some intermittent snow.

Oh yeah, and I'm sponsored this year! Sponsored by Fatcyclist.com. If you've never had a chance to read Fatty's blog, make sure that you do. It's hilarious, and he also raises money for some great causes. I'm proud to wear the jersey. And I promised I'd finish every race just like him - somewhere mid-pack, and gasping for air.

I got to the start line, thought I missed my start, but realized I was okay. Actually a bunch of people thought the same, and some of them got a late start. Anyway, off we went. A quick prologue loop and then onto the trial. There were about 15 in my division, and as we entered the real single track I was sitting at about eighth.

Better yet, I had been riding 15 minutes with no hint of back pain.

Arrived at the first real hill, and there were about eight people walking their bikes up the hill. They all had the same color race plates, so not sure how many were in my category - but usually I look for the guys with gray hair.

I spun my way up the hill passing all of the walkers. And still no back pain, great news. Tried to recover the best I could while still pedaling. Ended up talking to a guy behind me, and we both realize eventually we're in the same division. We both mention how we're just trying to finish the race, not really pushing it. We're both lying.

The guy behind me, that I never got a glimpse of, had some great strategy. We hit a big roller, and about three people ended up overtaking me. But I wasn't sure if my fellow masters riders was one of them. I took a look behind me and only younger guys. Yep, he passed me, and I didn't have the legs to match his pace. I just kept riding at a nice steady pace hoping I could catch him late in the race.

About 15 minutes later, I caught him! He had totally blown up his legs passing me at such a high speed.

Finally through the rollers of the 24 hour course and into the pine section. The course was in perfect shape, and I flew through this section. Turned left away from the normal 24 hour course and down a really fun descent. Of course I knew we'd pay for this, and we did. A rocky, slow grinding uphill awaited us. I almost made it without a dab until my back tire slid out on a rock. Still no back pain.

Back into the pine forest and back on to the normal 24 hour route. At this point I was passing more people than being passed - but no idea if they were masters racers or not.

Come to the big descent that ends in the creek bed. Blew down the hill, the new hydraulic brakes worked great. Went to make the sharp left into the creek bed, and promptly did a slow motion endo. Figures. Jumped back up and continued on.

Entered the field with a somewhat technical rock section that leads back in to the single track. Last year I had someone jump off and block me, afraid to ride through the rocks, this year it looked like the same would happen. But I made a pre-emptive move. As soon as the rider in front of me slowed, I yelled "rider back" and sped up. Lucky I did, as she was just getting ready to jump off her bike to go over the rocks. I blew by and passed two others that were trying to recover from the rocky section.

By this time I had been riding for over an hour with no back pain, other than the normal tiredness in the back. Awesome.

I pushed as hard as I could the last couple of miles. Caught a bunch of the beginners that were on a shorter course. Called out a lot of encouragement for them, as I remember how good that felt when I was passed as a novice.

Crossed the finish line and went to check my finish. Fifth place!! Somewhere I had passed four riders from my division, but I wasn't sure where. I knew I had passed two of them, but wasn't sure about a bunch of other riders. The four people that finished in front of me had five minutes on me. That never sounds like much time, but I know it is.

Can't wait for the next race as I think I can push it even harder since I don't have to worry about the back. Can't wait!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting skinny

video

Riding the new North Park skinny on Dr. J. Awesome trail, and it's keeps getting better.