Wednesday, September 28, 2005

VT50 race report

Sunday started early. way early. jenn hooked me with some instant oats, chugged some juice and coffee, all the sudden it was 545. racers meeting was at 530. sky was beginning to alight. didn't the race begin at sunrise? our condo was across and down the road about a 1/2mile from the start. grabbed brad and we sprinted-out through the dark cool morning air, so heavy with dew my specs covered-over with moisture. blinded, but hammering. is this a good way to warm up or bad? probably bad. legs sore, but legs have been sore for a week. we arrive. not late. race start at 615.

line-up around 605. already a full crowd, 150-200 expert riders. sport and novice behind. runners behind them. i walk across the front of the first row, already full, so i barge into the second. "excuse me. thanks." i'll earn my spot this time or blow-up trying.

there's no gun, just a guy saying "go" and we're off at a quick pace. last year i wouldn't have been able to hang, now i find myself working to not get stuck pulling the group. we stay on the road for 5-6miles, no one really wants to lead, but the pace stays high nonetheless. people on the brakes at 25mph, the pack behind us groans and someone complains, "doesn't anyone fucking know how to ride in a paceline?" i don't hear the sound of flesh and metal hitting the dirt, so it's all good. try to stay 6-7 folks back for the hard right turn into the tight singletrack entrance which turns-up a crushingly steep goathill of a climb - it will shatter this pack. wow. some strong riders up here. foley, racine, lyster. i'm no fool. i know i need to let these guys go and wait for the right group to form-up come time.

we hit the hard right, guy in front of me slips off bike, i'm off, i hear more yells behind me, "does anyone know how to ride!?"

up the climb, the pace stays decent, but it's 5% more than i should expend. by mile 10 i let lead pack completely slip away, if i hang up there, i'll blow-up, by aid station 2 (mile 12) they've got 1-2mins. jenn and mike p are there, nice to see them, i drop my arm warmers off. a chase group of sorts forms, but not a lot of guys working together. work with a couple guys here and there - one of which i know was the guy talking trash earlier in the pack. it continues. nice.

by aid station 4 (mile 22) we're still together, but by aid station 5 (mile 27) i'll let them go. if i keep the pace-up, i'll blow-up. haven't or eaten or drank much as the late breakfast didn't digest well and stomach has been crampin'. i ease-up a tad and start chugging HEED, more sips of Sustained Energy and then a Hammer Gu. within 15mins i'm feeling the fuel and am having fun again. the long sections of fireroad are mostly behind us and the course is now on atv roads and singletrack. the VT50 is a real nice ride!

by mile 32 (aid station 6) i've settled-in, but legs are definitely sore. guys have begun to pass me every 20mins or so. this will continue untill the finish where i end-up in 16th place. the rest of the race is tough on the tired legs, but great. the course flows nicely with a couple-few beautiful sections of singletrack and some great views. there isn't a speck of mud on the trails! off-camber roots which normally would be a cause for concern aren't even noticed. the climbs don't really let-up, but none are too long or grueling... it's more that the downhills are never long enough!

i eat a potatoe at aid station 7 (mile 37), need something substantial in my guts, but only stop for a few seconds. continue to chug the HEED, some light cramps are right below the surface in my quads. not enough fluids taken-in and my half-full camelback and water bottle are indicators of that at the finish. i Gu again, but drop one. oh crap!

i save the final gu for mile 47 and the last aid station. on the beginning of the ascent into the Ascutney xc ski trails i begin to see the haze in my eyes, i'm feeling light-headed. i waited too long to Gu, but if the gu kicks-in quick, i'll be fine, this is not happening, i am not breaking down... i push-on. brad and i rode these final three miles yesterday. i know this trail. all i have to do is make 3 more climbs. 1 down... 2 down... 3 down. across the ski slopes, i look back for the first time the whole race. no one there. don't have to sprint. i smile a big toothy grin all the way down the slope at speed towards the finish, bouncing and hoping along.

done in 4:42, 16th place overall out of 650 hearty souls. nipped last year's time by 30mins! i am very pleased. how could i not be!?

the post-race bbq is solid, good food, great band, $1.50 pints of Harpoon. nice. harry rolls across in 5:03. nice! Dan runs a 5:25 5ok! holy crap! that dude hasn't trained at all and finished in 20th place or so. iron man. one tough hombre. brad rolls across about 10mins behind his personal best in 5:45. another dude under 6! nice! he took the grannie gear off the bike... some of those climbs must have been pretty damn burly. more power to him!

a few hours later harry nabs some podium. 3rd place, Senior I. i know harry's bummed he didn't break 5, but it was a great ride and an awesome rip on that course! and came-away with some hardware. cool.

time to watch the sox...


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