Monday, April 28, 2008
toed the line with some of the big guns of the endurance racing world yesterday and wound up muddied and slightly bloodied but very happy with my day. the greenbrier marathon class was stacked with some serious talent with the presence of some national-level talent like ernesto marechin (speedgoat) and steve schwarz (titus) plus a selection of local fast guys. i wasn't out there to race them, just myself.
at the start i let the front of the pack disappear into the distance on the first hill. i staked out my position at the front of the second group of the pack and then concentrated on not going too hard, my brother hung onto my wheel up the first climb and then disappeared along the ridge at the top. for the first lap or two i battled back and forth with another couple of riders. i know i passed one in the feed zone after lap 2 - i just stopped to pick up 2 GUs, he had his bike upside down, not a good sign - and the other i can't remember if i passed him or not.
laps 2 & 3 we had to deal with the beginner fields which wasn't too bad, but i was amazed at how many were walking all of the 2nd big climb. half way through lap 4 i got lapped by the sologoat and after that the sport classes started passing me. by that point i'd slowed down enough so that that they were passing me on the climbs, but i did get frustrated a couple of times having to follow them through the rock garden and the final downhill.
as the race wore on i was feeling surprisingly good. i'd expected to be granny gearing the climbs by lap 4, but lap 4 came and i was still grinding away in the middle ring. i had a couple of bobbles on the wet waterbars on the hills, but other than that i was still riding well. lap 5 still felt good and doing the math in my head i figured i might get a 7th lap in. at the start of lap 6 i was passed by the 3rd place marathon rider and got a time check from him: 54 minutes to go right so unless this lap was really slow then 7 was within reach. by this point my riding was getting pretty sloppy in places, but i was still churning along and wasn't feeling like i was done. lap 7 didn't feel like it'd be out of reach or a complete suffer-fest.
as i was coming around to the finish to start that last lap i saw my brother in the feed zone and he asked if i was going out again and i gave him the thumbs up so we started my 7th and his 6th lap together. i had a little cramp heading up the very first hill on the last lap but managed to ride through it. my brother was having problems with his brakes, and was having to take the downhills very slowly, but after what we'd been riding through for i'm surprised that anyone in marathon had any brakes left. i did have to pop down into the granny for the big climb on the last lap, and i was definitely riding a bit sloppy and went down when my back tire slipped on a waterbar (giving myself a cut on my upper lip) that last time through but overall the last lap didn't feel that much worse than the first 6.