Tuesday, July 01, 2008

this is not a picture of a bike race


sorry, no pictures from this weekend, so here's one from the garden

saturday i raced the 12 hours of cranky monkey with my brother and Alistair - a new dcmtb'r who's just moved here from australia - in 3-man expert. we were up against a fast bike lane team (Bruce Buckley, Ryan Bannon, and Steve Dotigny) and a team of adventure racers. the forecast was for very hot weather and lots of sun, with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. with the race running from 8 am to 8 pm (or 7 depending on how you look at it) we'd be racing through the hottest part of a very hot day.

to get down to Quantico in time to check in an set up before the 8am start we were on the road from silver spring at 5, which meant being up around 4 and i didn't get a very good night's sleep the night before. we had a good representation of city bikes teams... 2 co-ed teams, our expert team, and a masters team and had a nice little camp set up under the new team ez-up and the whole foods ez-up i borrowed from heather. Alistair volunteered to take the first lap for us, i took the number 2 slot, and JJ rounded out our rotation. Alistair got us off to a good start, but i was the last of the 4 city bikes teams to get out for our 2nd lap -- Tom, Lynne, and Klasmeier had all gotten great starts.

i hadn't raced at Quantico for a couple of years -- i did the cranky monkey xc series race there the first time it was held on the base 2 or 3 years ago -- but i'd forgotten just how much fun the trails were. the loop was a nice mix of twisty singletrack, rutted fireroads with a "singletrack" line in them, and a good amount of gravel/fire road. there was also a good mix of techy singletrack climbing and some steep grunts up powerline easements and the fireroads to keep things interesting. i pushed as hard as i could on the flowy stuff and kept pushing but dropped the gears low to spin up the climbs to preserve my legs. the first lap felt great. i passed plenty of riders and came in sub 1 hour (ok, only by 2 seconds, but i was pretty happy with that).

after i handed off to JJ the next 2 hours were spent trying to re-hydrate and cool down and mother nature wasn't helping out at all. the heat & humidity was already building and meant that you just kept sweating all of the time. but those two hours passed and it was time for lap two. lap two felt a lot like lap one. no cramping, a few aches from my lower back, maybe a little slower on the climbs, but now the downhills were faster knowing what was coming and how to pace myself. 1:01 for lap 2. one minute slower than the first time around. had to make a more conscious effort to re-hydrate and refuel after lap 2 as i'd realized i hadn't had to take a nature break since before the first lap -- not a good sign when it comes to dehyrdation.

at this point we were solidly in 2nd place in expert, and somewhere near the top 10 overall. the bike lane were solidly ahead of us and continuing to build their lead, pulling laps that were a minute or two faster than us, and the 3rd place team was dropping further and further behind us. and we'd passed the 2 co-ed teams so we were the 2nd best placed dcmtb/city bikes team in the race.

lap three was the hardest for me. this lap was right around 3pm and the sun was out at full strength. there were some rumbles of thunder off in the distance as i waited for Alistair in the transition area, but they never got close enough to cancel the race. lap three just didn't quite feel right. i felt less flow, more stop & go, more near misses on techy stuff and had an "unplanned landing" when i didn't see a sapling of the left of the trail and hooked the end of my bars on it. lap 3 ended up coming in at just over 1:05.

lap four started at 6:50... 10 minutes before the cutoff for starting your last lap. i'd been worried that this would be my completely-blow-to-ruin-an-otherwise-great-day lap but that was not to be. i was able to keep riding strong. i felt like i was riding the downhills faster than any previous lap. the flow that was gone on lap 3 was back on lap 4. the air had cooled just enough to make the climbs more comfortable and the course was feeling more and more familiar, and as a result, shorter. for a while i was thinking that i might be on pace to ride my fastest lap, but in the end i was just over 1:02. i did manage to pick off a couple of the sport teams who'd snuck ahead of us on the overall. in the end we were 2nd expert, 9th overall... 11 laps in 11 hours 52 minutes (and 14 seconds).

given the weather, and my results in team endurance races so far this year, you'd think i wouldn't have great expectations for this race. but from the start, something just felt different this time around. my attitude going in was better than it'd been in a while, and maybe that was what made the difference in the end. i think i did a better job of racing smart than i have in a while: taking the climbs easy, not pushing too hard to early, but at the same time keeping a solid pace.

when all was said and done it was a day of great trails and great teammates, and that leads to a great race.


4 comments:

Seth said...

Hey Joe,

Wow. Great description of what sounds like a great race. Felt like I was there with you. Cool.

I still have your growler. I'm gonna brew this week, so I'll fill it up with something for the next time I see you...

joe said...

we'll be up (for a night, midweek) in a couple of weeks... might be too soon for a new batch of beer to be ready, though.

Seth said...

Yeah, you'll have to wait. Unless you just want your growler back...

joe said...

i'll take it full...