By now you have probably read the report of my race in Velonews today. No? Weird. They were supposed to have that up by now. I mean they are really really interested in the progress of my racing career. Clearly they just haven’t had time to post the article yet. Since you both are sponsoring my racing, I wanted to clarify a couple of things that are reported in that article. There is more to the story than their slanted one sided “reporting” of the facts.
My race today was tough. But that’s only part of the story. The story of this race really started last weekend when I wrecked my rear derailleur on a stick. By Wednesday night I had my bike repaired, but it really ruined the flow of my week. Friday I went out to some local trails to test the repairs and all was well. Saturday I went back to those trails to warm up. That’s when the second disaster struck.
I wasn’t pushing it really hard. I wanted to work on my single track form and find my flow leading up to the race. I felt really good. Nice form, leaning in the corners, look ahead on the trails. I came up to a sandy corner and set up for it. I was starting to lean my bike to start the turn when my rear tire washed out under me. There was just a little bit of slick hard pack mud right before the corner and I found it. I went down hard. Really hard. My arms and legs were scraped up. (Well at that time they were caked in mud and sand. I would learn later when I was picking the sand out of the scrapes that I was scraped up.) The right side of my bike was covered in mud. I finished my ride, but was hurting. BTW. The rumor that Maxxis Ikons are treacherous in mud? Well I can conform that.
They are really fast rollers on hard pack. But they do not shed mud. You might as well be on slicks.
Here I was going into a race, on a course I had never ridden before, in mud and beaten up physically (my shoulders and neck were really sore).
I finally caught a break when Noah (you remember Noah right? The Columbine Aid Station kid) got invited for a sleep over and I was free to get to the race as early as I wanted. I got to the course before the first races went off and went to pre-ride it.
Let me say that the Addison Oaks MTB trails are a lot of fun. They are fast and flowy. Well burmed corners with a really nice rythm. I was feeling better about the race. Well except for the fact that I was really sore from my crash. My neck and shoulders were stiff. Still, in true Team Fatty Hoops spirit I decided to soldier on.
As an aside, while I was waiting for the race and walking around in my Fatty kit (“Halloween Retro” FC kit) someone said “Hey I am rocking that kit today too. It was a fellow Friend of Fatty (Hi David if you read this!). We got to chatting about 100 MoN and what out plans were. He was racing SS so I didn’t see much of him during the race. (It’s always like meeting a long lost brother when you stumble on a FoF in life. After the race we commiserated while eating pie. We both brought some. Love my Fatty Brothers! And really, pie is good for all possible situations, so why would you not have it with you?)
So that is the set-up for the race. Messed up week of training, hard fall that left me battered, on a course I didn’t know very well. Well except for ONE other small thing. I, as my gaming sons would say, “leveled up”. This was to be my debut as a Sport Class rider.
Now I put this decision to ride as in the Sport class on another “Friend” of Fatty who shall remain nameless (DavidH) who mercilessly teased me about riding in the Novice division in June. MERCILESSLY. I believe I was accused of sandbagging. Yeah I won that race and yes I did get my prizes while wearing a Leadville buckle,
but it was actually my second XC race ever. Not wanting to take any more heat I decided to go Sport.
OK, the race. It was clear from the start that the Sport division is a totally different animal from Novice. The pace is a lot higher. And, and those guys have learned something that the novice riders don’t quite know yet: how to pace themselves for a race. No one blew up for the entire race.
I held onto the back of the pack for the first lap. I was pushing myself, but was flowing well on the trail. Not as well as the people who knew the trails, but I was happy with my effort.
Towards the end of that first lap my race became infinitely more difficult. My shoulder and neck started to ache and then started to hurt. It started to be really hard to use my upper body for the climbs, and my speed dropped. My second lap was not fun. I had to do a third lap and was not looking forward to it. But I decided I was going to go as hard as my battered body would allow me to go. I stood to climb. I tried to flow, and I tried to really crank on the fast flat sections of the course.
I was passed by a friend who I met at Leadville and he asked how I was doing. I told him I was struggling and he told me to get onto his wheel. I did for a while but could not sustain it. Still my 3rd lap was faster than my second and I am proud of that. My mental game was better on that lap.
In the end (as Velo will report) my finish wasn’t great. But I didn’t finish last! And my “No you go on, I am Riding Sweep” T-shirt, which I was wearing, remains a nice joke, not the truth.
So there you go, my Addison Oaks XC race in nutshell. I am sitting here licking my wounds (physical and mental) right now and recovering. In two weeks I go to another new course and race in the Pando Challenge. I am looking forward to racing in a race in which my bike is working and I am not beat up. It would be a nice change.