Sunday: 2:50 (2:15~ ride time)
I asked a smart friend in the know about training what to do on Saturday, the day before a big race. The suggestion was to go for a pretty easy 90 minute ride with a few 30s hard efforts. I tried to do a decent warm up, and then did a few 30s sprints. Got about 35 or so minutes in to the ride and realized if I kept going to ride around the lake the ride would be a big longer than 90 minutes, but if I turned around and went home, it'd be a bit shorter than 90 minutes. My ride partner wanted to do the whole route, so I just decided I'd take it easy after the first hour.
Saddle got a little uncomfortable on the crap roads, but our short break at a gas station helped a little. We kept it going, and then wound up with a ridiculous headwind for the last 10 or so miles.
I did a quick yoga session after the ride, had half a protein shake, a BBQ turkey sandwich, and tried to sit on the couch for a bit. Ran some errands, then came home and tried to get everything ready for the race the next day. Bottles, post-race sandwich, clothes, etc.
Still managed to catch most of "Legends of the Fall" in HD, and was in bed around 9:30 or so, despite getting up after 7 am (sleeping in!).
Somehow the nerves dissapated enough for me to get a decent night's sleep. I was up before the alarm, though, and tossed and turned waiting for it to go off.
Finally it was time to get up, make breakfast, and get the vehicle loaded up to head up the hill.
I was almost alarmed at not seeing anyone else driving up for the race. Only two other bikes on the road at all, and they weren't racing! We pulled into the registration area and it at least had a few people milling about. We got out in the cold air (time for Adidas warm-ups already in the mornings??), filled out our paper work and got our number plates.
Decided to head up closer to the start, and again didn't see many people. Drove back to the bathrooms (they were the only ones available), and then back up to the upper parking area about 1/2 mi from the start line. I took my time getting ready since I didn't want to warm up for almost 45 minutes. Eventually it was about an hour to race time, so I finally got dressed, applied sunscreen, and eventually rode down to a flat section to start warming up.
Did some loops around a big parking lot, and then it was time to start the short hill climb and check tire pressure. Tire pressure was good. My legs felt horrible climbing back up to the vehicle, so I wanted to hill repeat a few times. The legs never really felt like they opened up, but my HR got up there a little, and so I rode up to the start/staging and found an available bush (everyone was looking around for privacy since there weren't bathrooms anywhere). I rode around a little on the dirt, but wanted to get over and stage and not be in the way of the race start, so eventually just went and stood around like everyone else.
Most of the older Expert's and the pro's had their appropriate leg markings, but a few people in my class were either hiding about 15 yards from staging, or did not have leg markings. What is up with that? Trying to be all stealth so no one "marks" you during the race? Man up and get marked. It took a little elbow grease with cold water and then a baby wipe to get the marker off after the race for me. Your skin isn't that much different. Seriously.
So I wasn't really sure who was in my class. Seemed like everyone wanted to go stealth (afterall there was hardly anyone pre-registered to begin with, and then about 12 of us on the line).
We took off and I let the pro's go on ahead. I was pretty sure that no one else in my class passed me (at least no one marked appropriately). I figured hanging on to the Pro's wasn't going to get me anywhere, so I just kept my pace and hung out a little below my LT (thinking, "I can hold this ALL day…"). There was someone right on my wheel for the first 2 miles or so. Not sure if they were in my class as they didn't want to pass me. So, I'm guessing they were in my class, but it was the same team as one of the Pro's I thought it might be.
Either way, I wound up pulling a gap when the fire road started to descend and then roller coaster. When I looked back each time I only saw Sport Men catching up and passing me.
I felt pretty good for the most part. Kept my lower back pain to a minimum, and the legs were cranking. Got down to the first singletrack and was moving along. Came to a sand pit and just missed a few people that had come to a complete stop. I passed one sport guy and kept moving. Caught up to someone with a similar number to mine, so had to push hard to catch up and check the full number on the shin. Not in my class; same category, but the next age group up. I let them ride off, though tried to keep them in sight.
Got to the point where the Sport/Expert course split, and was a bit behind two Expert's. They took off. I descended the first sketchy singletrack, and while I knew the course was *supposed* to go hard left in a switchback, there was no signage, and I saw tire treads going straight.
I made the turn anyway, but didn't see any signs, painted arrows, and very little dust. I hoped I was on the right course still. Eventually down at the next turn there was an arrow, and I felt much better about being in the right spot.
I cranked up the rocky climb and passed a few guys getting ready for bottle hand-offs. Just at the top I turned to do a short descent and felt my rear tire was going low. "No." Pause, look down. "No, no. This isn't happening." I got off my bike and felt it, nearly flat. "My tire isn't flat!"
It was flat. I've never gotten a flat tire in a race before. I would've traded multiple finishes earlier this year to not have gotten a flat tire yesterday.
The weird thing? I've never carried an extra tube, C02's, tire levers, or anything else before. I did yesterday. Should I have just left the extra's in the vehicle? Maybe it was bad luck to bring them along.
I set to work getting the wheel off the rear of the bike, and then tried to get the tire off the rim. The tire wouldn't budge. I thought I would put a hole in the tire before I got it off the rim if I used the tire lever. I remembered there were a few guys about 1/2 mi back on the course and maybe they could help me. I ran my wheel and tire lever back to them, and eventually after working with it they were able to get it "unglued". After they removed a little bit of it, I said thanks and headed back to my bike. I was running my hand around the rim removing the tire from the rim while running. Got back to my bike and then the tube wouldn't budge. Ugh.
I began turning the tire inside out to pull the tube off in about 2" sections. Eventually it was free. And everyone that started with me and was on the long course passed by. I was all alone now.
I put in the new tube and inflated a little, then checked the bead, then inflated, then checked the bead, the finished inflating the tire. Put everything back in the seat bag, and then tried to get the wheel back on. I could not get the chain back where it belonged on the cassette.
I tried for a long time. Eventually I got the wheel in the dropouts and tightened it back on so I could at least get moving. The hiking sucked. I got frustrated, stopped again, and tried to fix it with the bike right side up so it would make sense to me to see it properly. I couldn't hold the bike and also have two hands to try to fix the chain issue. So I put it back so it was at least attached and started hiking again. I was really frustrated, and not looking forward to about a 1.5mi hike back to the fire road where I hoped there would be at least be course marshals.
I came around a corner and there were a few guys on bikes waiting for the rest of their group. I got up to them and asked the one if he could fix my bike. It took him about 30 seconds. I profusely thanked him and pedaled off.
I knew I was dead last, and that there was a chance that the course marshals and finish line would be packed up. I kept pedaling. I was out of energy. I had stopped eating and drinking for about 35 minutes, which was about how long my delay/mechanical took before I got moving again.
I finally made it to the fire road and there were still course marshall's out there. They asked if I had passed anyone. I managed to say that I had had a flat tire and was stopped so long I didn't think anyone else was out there.
The marshal's at each turn were always sitting around, not expecting any other racers. I grabbed a cup of water from the water station, and eventually passed a few guys I knew that were out riding for fun.
I didn't see anyone again after that other than marshal's at a few designated turns. Eventually I made it to the finish line. There was almost no one there, but I am pretty sure I did wind up with a finish time, though I am almost positive I was the last finisher.
I was pretty deflated, hungry, and felt like I was about to bonk at any moment.
I pedaled down to the awards area, but couldn't find my SO anywhere. Apparently we were looking for each other, all in the wrong places. I climbed all the way back up to the finish line, but to no avail. Pedaled back down to awards. Finally we met up. Both of us had bad luck.
I took awhile to change clothes and have my recovery drink, and by the time I was finished had missed awards. Probably seemed unsportsman-like of me, but it wasn't on purpose. Totally missed the raffle and free taco's as well.
Hopped in the vehicle and headed for home. Drowned my sorrows in red wine and filet.
Only 4 more races to go this season…and none as important as the race I just lost. No matter. Time to get back on the horse tomorrow and train my butt off to do well in the next 4.