Friday, March 8, 2013

TBF MTB Madness: Quite sane, really, but I don't name the races, I just do them) 3/3/13

March is the latest I've gone into the year without pinning numbers on so far in my royracingV2.0 and my last race was back in October (a rather unsatisfying 50 mile mountain bike race) so I was kind of itching to get some competitive juices flowing despite not being up to race fitness.

Not up to race fitness? Why is that, Roy? Well... I started base miles and food-diary-calorie-counting-hell in the end of November and -despite some pretty big demands on my time- by the Grasshopper ride in January was feeling quite fit and on target for my optimal climbing weight. The Grasshopper ride went well despite some back problems and a cranky bike.

Kind of hard to keep the fitness up when it looks like this!
But then work took over and I had to go to Massachusetts for 20 days and my training was very disrupted and my diet went all to shit. With only ten days back on the bike, I wasn't sure what to expect from the legs at this race but I treated the training week normally with little concession to the race and just didn't put much emotional stock in it figuring it would be a good test of the legs and, at the least, a fun day on the bike with the teammates around. I rode the opening section a couple times and really liked the sort of cyclocross-ish feel of it.  I decided that if anything came of this race I was going to put a big effort into the beginning to try and form a better habit.  Lately my starts have been WAAAY too lackadaisical.  So that's what I did.  I passed everyone in the opening two mile (ish?) section except one guy and by the time we were into the first real single track section I was holding 2nd place firmly.  I stayed in 2nd into the paved section before the first single track climb and was feeling pretty good about that.

Then I was passed by one person who pulled away strongly and thought, "well, hold onto third then."  Then the slow traffic started getting heavy and keeping momentum was a little difficult.  I tried to keep track of who passed me and who was in different categories and by the time the dust settled and the body checks of the first lap were settled I thought I only lost two or three places.

The second lap was mostly spent in no man's land but I was passed by someone who looked about my age category toward the end of the lap.  I held him in sight for quite awhile closing the gap on the climbs and open flat sections but then losing him on the twisties and rocks (quite a familiar story for this roadie-wolf in mtb-sheep clothing...).

Every lap I enjoyed the opening section but my lack of fitness was starting to show on the climbs where I was losing my pep.  After the longish single track climb toward the beginning of the third and last lap I barely saw the rider ahead and decided that even if I completely exploded and lost four places, it would be worth it to leave everything out on the course and close that gap and try to beat that guy.  And, amazingly, that's what happened in spectacular (well, if there's a mediocre bike racer version of spectacular this was it...) fashion I surprised myself closing the gap right at the end of the lap, literally coming by him in time to sprint for 5th place.

That was extremely satisfying not because 5th of 18 finishers is any kind of extra-special result but more because I did two mental things really well in this race that are weak points for me.  A)I dug in at the start and established a good position early on despite burning some matches.  B)I again burned matches instead of holding back in order to catch the guy ahead.  It paid off and, besides being a confidence builder, it was a reversal of a couple of bad habits I've developed that are both related to not wanting to overextend myself in races. racing team with two wins, a third, a fifth,
two sevenths and a tenth for the day! w00t!
After the race I enjoyed celebrating the team's two wins and a third for the day despite our not quite getting enough team points to get on the overall podium.  I'm really enjoying my new team and really feeling like things are on track for a good season if I can get the four pounds back off my frame and keep the training up.

Besides being the first race for this team this was also my first chance to ride the new (to me) Trek Superfly 29'er hard tail I bought back in December.  What a huge jump up from my (formerly) beloved Johnny T!  Without being a dork I also have to mention how much I am *honestly*, for reals, enjoying my Mavic Plasma SLR helmet and Fury shoes.  I'm very picky about helmet fit and the Plasma has been awesome from day one.  And the Fury shoes replaced the Giros I bought last year immediately.  They're simply more comfortable and stiffer when standing on the pedals.  I hate replacing high-end gear so soon (always the thrifty one...) but this was a good upgrade.

Next race firmly on the schedule isn't until May but I'm trying to re-motivate for track racing this year so expect to be adding that to my diet in the coming weeks.  But more work travel and a much-needed family mini-vacation come first.