The Iowa MTB race series has 11 races and I've already missed three. I'll be missing another while we are on vacation in Montana, so that means that I need to hit the remaining seven to have any chance at retaining my Masters title. I'll need all the points that I can get. So, even though I haven't trained for racing yet, I knew that I needed to race at Summerset this past Sunday. All I was looking for was points, a good workout would be a bonus. I had hopes of having a good race, but wasn't planning on much.
Nine of us lined up and if I was trained, it would be hard to get 5th at best with this group. No problem, I lined up at the back and figured I'd give it my best. I felt tired from all of the trail work that I did to prep this course, but I also had semi-fresh riding legs. What would happen?
As the race started, I followed the group into the single-track and had no problem holding onto the back. The speed started lifting and knowing that it was over 85 degrees, I thought I should let them go. I could still see 8th place towards the end of the lap, so I figured that I would be giving up 1 minute on the first lap. We had seven laps to ride, so maybe some of these guys would blow up.
Lap 2 had my stomach churning a little bit, so I had to back off a little. Laps 3 and 4 were a little better. Each time that I came through the finish line, my split times were within 60 seconds of each other and my heart rate was steady between 162-165avg. I was actually riding pretty good, I just didn't have any high end power (normal race pace would have the heart rate averaging closer to 175 a lap).
During these first 5 laps, I had a few of the fast Cat2 riders and singlespeeders come around me and I would use them to pace me for awhile. At the end of lap 5, I could see another Rassy's rider in front of me and figured it was 8th place. I picked up the pace to try and chase him down and 1/3 of the way through the lap, I caught him. I was surprised to see that it was Rick. I tailed him for a bit and discovered that he had blown-up. Probably went too hard and with the heat, it had beat him down. He was toughing it out for points and after a few minutes, he let me by. I pushed it hard to see if anyone else was catch-able. In the end, I couldn't find the next guy, I had let them get too far out in front.
In the end, I placed 7th, as one person had a mechanical. I think this was 4th place in the 35+ category, so it should be worth some good points. Looking back, I'm happy with how the race went. My lap times and heart rates were consistent. I think that I ended up closer in time to a few guys that I marked (compared to last year). I need to work on the upper end heart rates and get some endurance rides in. On the positive, I think that the fact that I'm 4lbs lower than last years, end of season, race weight helped. I also rode the new wheelset and tires and they definitely spun faster. I'm glad that it appears that I haven't lost too much fitness, with proper training, it might be as if I hadn't missed a beat.
Stole the photos from Nick, thanks!