Like Rick, I had the best intentions of writing a race report early last week. I also keep watch for others race reports and can't wait to hear how it went for them. I should be more prompt in mine.
The girls opted out of being my race support and I really don't blame them. While it is nice to have them there to cheer me on, I realize that they only see me for a fleeting moment and then sit and wait for another 45min until I come around again. Racing is exciting for the participants, but not so much for the spectators. I arrived at Seven Oaks near 10:30, registered and took my time getting ready. Jason and I headed out to ride the beginner loop and I stashed a spare bottle for the middle of my race. I felt good during the warm-up and thought I might have a pretty good race. Seven Oaks rewards those that have dirt skills and can stay on the bike the most often. I quickly drank a Monster (bad idea) and got lined up with the others.
The usual suspects were there including 4-5 really fast guys (I only plan on seeing Cam, Jed, Kent, Aaron and Jay at the start). I marked a few others that are in the 35+ category and we were off. The group spreadout quickly and got in line for the 1st singletrack climb. Funny how the experts really seem to understand where they fit in the line (speed wise). I was 12th wheel as we climbed and I felt good. All of us were still bunched together until the 1st switchback climb after the bridge on the backside. Bullerman was in front of me and riding strong until we hit the tight singletrack. A gap quickly opened in front of him and although Steve has the fitness, I could tell he wasn't comfortable on this section. I made a sketchy pass on the inside of a downhill switchback (thanks Steve) and pushed ahead to catch-up. I thought that I had dropped the group behind me, but on the next sustained climb I could feel them on my wheel again. Obviously these guys can climb better than me. I tried to push it harder on the technical sections and usually opened a small gap. Then Steve would power up to me. After awhile I asked if he wanted by, he stated that I was faster and would stay where he was. Wouldn't you know it, shortly after that I would bobble on a rooty uphill and have to hop off the bike. Steve got buy and I ran to quickly stay in touch. As luck would have it, we were just hitting the top/power section of the course and he motored away. I should have tried harder to stay with him, but I just didn't have it.
It was here that the Monster started to play with me. I was 30min into the race and couldn't tell if I had stomach problems or was dehydrated. I couldn't decide if I should drink or not. I paced myself through the start finish and was already behind Steve by 1:20. It took 1/2 of the next lap to get my body back to normal. In that time, Brad Patty had quickly caught and passed me. Again, I tried to stay with him, but couldn't hang on. Near the end of lap two I felt better and was able to push harder. I let it all hang out and thought that I was catching those in front of me. At the end, I don't think that I made any headway, but I did feel good about the effort.
Overall, I finished 13th out of 15. 2min behind Brad, 4 behind Steve and 6-8 behind those that I should be shooting for. I did get some small victories in this race. My lap times were consistent (something that hasn't been happening). 45min, 47min, 46min and my heart rates stayed higher for longer 173, 170, 169 avg for each lap.
I also learned to stay away from the Monster before the race. Overall, I'm happy with the way that I've been learning and progressing with each race this year. It was a big jump to move up a class, but I wanted the longer race times and in the end I will be faster/stronger for next year.
I couldn't figure out how to download the pic, but good race photos from Angy. I am photo #31.
Next up is the 24hrs of Seven Oaks. Racing with Rick, Nate and Jason. Looking forward to it.
Nice work, Tom - keep it up. Racing in Boone (especially in the dark!) will do wonders for your handling & strength. Good luck up there! - Jed
Thanks Jed, if I continue to ride and maybe get serious about an actual training program I'll have a shot at seeing you guys actually on the course next year.
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