Sunday was a low key highly anticipated XC race, non race, event; what ever you want to call it. Bottom line it was a group of folks who love to get out on their mountain bikes and see who can go faster. Big thanks to Team Seagal for putting this thing together.
No one walked away Sunday without feeling the effort did not hurt in one way or another. When I left the last person I saw cross the line was at 4 hours, 45 min. In the near 90 degree heat of the day it was by no means a walk in the park for anyone.
So we all started with a run to the bikes, hopped on and off we went into the woods, I was 5th going in. The starting pace was higher than I wanted but it was good to set things high at first to get some separation from the rest. Soon I had to back off as the heart rate was over what I could manage for 3+ hours. After I backed off Matt, Drew, Mitch and one other passed me. At the DD parking lot 4 miles into the race I was told I was in 9th. Having this piece of info was the motivation for the day.
I finally got the vital signs to a manageable level and began a steady pace. Strategy was smooth riding, eat and drink all the time and push things on the up hills.
Soon I came up on Rock who was nursing a flat and another further down the trail doing the same. This put me in 7th.
Just before the 17 mile mark before first water stop I caught up to a SS rider then caught another after the creek crossing climbing to the top of what seemed like 100 hills. Catching and passing riders was super motivational as you never knew who would be right around the corner. On the other hand, I kept checking my 6 often, I did not want anyone to pass and this helped me keep a good steady pace.
So now in 5th I figured that left Dan, Matt, Drew and Mitch up the trail. Knowing who the riders were I figured I might be out of luck catching any of them as they are all strong riders. But still feeling good with lots of power I soldiered on as this hot humid day can make a rider hit the wall at any time. Drew was one such rider who seemed to have slowed from his starting pace as I caught him on one a climb, passed and rode away. Now in 4th, sweet!
At 24 miles the gravel began. It was a catch 22 really, the speed was higher but the shade was gone and I knew there was one big climb ahead. Line of sight was good too, I was really hoping to see a rider ahead to give me that last bit of motivation to get my self in 3rd overall. This section was hot and the sun beat down. Only relief were the couple of creek crossing.
At the top of the climb, 4 miles later, there that rider was. It was Mitch. I caught him just before we finished the paved section of 49. Long decent back down to creek bed level and I got back into a comfortable pace for the last 7.5 miles. 5 more miles of gravel then 2.5 miles of single track. After the gravel I shut off the music so I could hear the sounds around me just in case there was a rider I did not see closing in.
Finally I crossed hwy 49 which meant the finish line was just a few hundred yards away. I crossed the finish line in 3:30:51, 6 min behind winner Matt. Dan came in 2nd just 42 seconds behind Matt. And Bob I belive got his spoke card back.
I finished feeling good about the effort but beat from the heat. Legs were good, no cramping but I was hot and needed to get cooled down. I sat down for a bit then rode the paved road back to the boat ramp where I cranked up the AC in the truck, cooled off and quickly began feeling normal again.
So that ends the training load phase of the year. Peaked out at 77.6. Blue line shows the growth.
A new chart I came across is this one. Comes from the Training Peaks blog. I find it interesting in that it can validate improvement.
Next up is a week of rest, get caught up on some yard and house work. June will focus on variable power and tempo work along with three XC races.
Till next time......