Monday, July 17, 2006

Dalton XC Race Report

Usual race-day morning, minus me pulling the stiches-out of my pinkie. Juice, oatmeal, coffee, Jenn decides to roll and off we go to pick-up Thom around 730a. 2 1/2hr drive later, including a miracle non-ticket warning from a State Trooper's magaphone, "85 is not the speed limit!", we arrive at Holiday Farm for the Root 66 Dalton XC. memories of pain and suffering from last year's solo 24 began to well-up, but a feeling of excitement at the thought of hammering "only" three 10mile laps had me all fired-up to have a good one. the xc course indluded a mile more of singletrack compared to the 24hr course, while they both boast a 2.5m climb (1m on singletrack and 1.5m on fireroad) - a solid 1,200+ ft of climbing per lap, some flowing stuff, couple technical sections to make sure you're paying attention, a perfect mtb course.

Temps are in the high 80's by noon, nice breeze, perfect bluebird day. Jenn teams-up with Mo Bruno's husband Matt to do bottle hand-ups so we can snag 2 blts per 10mile lap - there's no way i could have survived the 2.5 mile climb w/o 2 btls of water/endurolyte mix per lap.

Wetted-down the hair and went for a light spin 30-40mins before start time on the section of singletrack i hadn't ridden before. about 15-20mins into the warm-up, i'm slamming through some rocks, trying to find the line, and get a flat in the rear tubeless - a Kenda Kharma 1.95. Have to slap my "emergency" tube in there, use-up the only 16gram CO2 i'm carrying to get rolling - as there's only got 10mins to race start. Roll-down to the start, find Matt and Jenn - and Matt saves the day by providing a 40gram CO2 and an extra tube. Sweet. Only drawback is now i'm pushing a 650gram UST with a regular tube in it. try hard to not let the extra weight get in my head - Thom rode with a tube in his ust bulldog for Mt Snow (and nipped my time by 1 sec), so what do i have to complain about? as i'm contemplating the situation on the starting line Doug McFadd appears, having completed the novice race earlier that day - his first mtb race in many yrs - way to go Doug!

It's a mass start by age, the heat keeps us from really going for it and it's easy to slip into a good position before hitting the singletrack. the course is great through here, sun sprinkled across the sandy flowing, moderately technical trail. within a mile or two, the course turns down and across a narrow bridge with a slippery rocky entrance. the guy in front of me hops-off and begins slowly walking across the bridge - the only ridable line! i'm still in the saddle, doing a track-stand, wondering what in the f this guy is thinking - you can't walk the only ridable line 2miles into the start of an XC! the guy behind me begins to run around to the side, i wait, hit the line and move-up a position, pretty bewildered...

soon we're sweating our asses-off on the 2.5mile hill grind. i keep a cpl fellas in sight, guys who have been consistenly faster than i this yr, legs feel good, keep chugging water, pretty sure i'm in 1st place for Expert. we summit, ride into a fun and challenging section of singletrack, descend at speed for a bit, then turn back-up a fireroad badly rutted from logging on the farm. i'm looking ahead, trying to keep contact w/the next group, a cpl Experts close behind, pick a poor line, have to leap across a 1-2' deep mud hole and slam the rear tire against the far side. know immediately the tire will pinch flat and sure enough, about 10secs later it's flat. ride on it for another 1/4mile looking for a good place to stop to fix - stop, rip-off the wheel for a quick and focused tube-swap (without Matt's tube and CO2 i'd have been f'd!), 5 riders pass me, including Thom.

back in the game, but the rear tire feels a little low, am worried about flatting again, so i stop again a mile later and add more air. better to be safe than standing on the side of the trail! i work pretty hard for the next 5miles and before beginning the climb for the 2nd time, bridge back-up to Thom and 2 other riders. i don't ease the pace, thom latches on, we drop the others and slowly reel-in the NAV rider who's in 1st for experts. the pace quickens after we bridge-up to the NAV guy and i slip 100-200feet behind. the NAV rider slips away from Thom on the descent and i stay 20-40secs behind thom for the rest of the 2nd lap - and for the 3rd lap, with no challenges from behind.

i hang-out in this mtbike race limbo for the 3rd and final lap, even stopping for 15secs to stretch-out a seriously aching back on the top of the climb. this eases the feels-like-i'm getting-stabbed-by-an-angry-midget-living-in-my-back pain, and i focus on riding good strong lines for the rest of the lap. keep seeing thom through the trees, but once again, can't put the pieces together to bridge-up.

Thom crushes the SS class with a win, I slide across the line shortly after for a 2nd place Expert finish, a handful of folks in front of us. Solid results. I came to Dalton for a win, so was a tad bit dissapointed, but handled the flat well, which is a great take-away as it's way easy to let a technical ruin a race.

mo bruno had to DNF, but they left 4 btls with gatorade in them for us - another lifesaver from Matt. we sit and drink and try to recover, then slowly head-down to a stream, only 100ft down an embankment from the car. not only a great course, but a beautiful, fast-flowing stream to take a dip and clean-up in after. nice day for a ride. good times.


At 7/17/2006 7:02 PM, Blogger Andy said...

wow man, you two ripped that race apart!!!

A n i m a l s ! ! !

At 7/17/2006 10:31 PM, Blogger IF Chicks said...

great writeup. the pix of you & Thom leave no doubt guys were giving 100%. Too bad about the flat,but way to busta move to bridge back up !!

At 7/18/2006 12:40 PM, Blogger rick said...

nice job in the race and great write up.

At 7/18/2006 10:27 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Great finish! Way to go.


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