Monday, April 07, 2008
AZ NORBA... omnium? stage-race?
We started out to the race on Wednesday by driving to Sedona, where John, Mary, Brooke and I ended up at the Comfort Inn. It was the cheapest place we could find, but it turned out have super comfy beds and included breakfast!
After breakfast the four of us met up with Mike and Alexandra, and we all kitted up.
By the time we started riding though, my tummy was rumbling and the pizza place I'd seen in town was calling me back.
It all worked out though because after just a few minutes of riding we realized 2 things: This was going to be a much harder ride than the easy hour of spinning that my training plan called for, and that this was going to be a much harder ride than would be fun for Mary, who had only done MTB a handful of times (even though she is crazy enough to run, bike and swim for 8 hours or something!)
Needless to say, I was stoked. After a few minutes of bargaining with my wife, it was decided that we would get pizza!
The pizza place was great, and we had soup and salad too. While we ate and drank ginger ale we watched the lizards that were crawling on the patio wall, until it started to rain and we moved inside and sat at the bar.
After lunch Brooke and Mary and I had a great ride and found a really neat trail called the Templeton Trail.
We all met up a couple of hours later and went to the grocery store where we got dinner fixin's, then went back to Mike and Alexandra's cabin where we all cooked, ate, and hung out.
John and Mary stayed in one of the rooms at the cabin that night, but Brooke and I set out on our own adventure!
After we left, we drove down the road looking for a nice place to camp and ended up in a really nice spot next to a river:
...and under a flowering plum (?) tree.
The ground was flat and soft.
The next morning our truck wouldn't start (yikes) no matter what we did. It sounded like the starter motor had a sticky solenoid.
It had hesitated earlier in the trip, but nothing like the complete refusal to start that it was doing now.
We figured that maybe it would turn over once it warmed up, so we left the sun beating on the hood and rode our bikes up the road to the cabin for coffee on the balcony overlooking the river.
Several cups of coffee later we rode back to the car, felt the hood (nice and warm) and it started right up.
We packed and headed to Fountain Hills, but because of traffic on the way we didn't get to check into our hotel OR preride the course as planned.
We had to go straight to the venue, get our numbers and ride to the start, AANNNNNDDDDDDD...... wait. In hindsight, we could've pre-ridden after all, oh well.
And that's how the racing started.
The Super-D was really just a TT. It was all out for 16 minutes if you were Geoff Kabush or 18 and a half minutes if you were me.
That put me in 24th-ish place, about 30 seconds behind the stage winner (I think, if you want precision try cyclingnews.com).
The next day I watched a friend race in the Expert Short Track (Go Wes!!!) and then we pre-rode the XC course, I drank some water and narrowly missed out on a call-up for ST. They called up the top 20.
I started as hard as I could and I think I was around 30th of 50-60 riders. The first turn everything kind of bunched up and I could be wrong (correct me if I am Papo) but I think my teammate Papo kind of got "pinched" on the wrong side of the turn and ended up having to fight his way through the back of the field.
Meanwhile, I was yo-yoing around in the middle. I couldn't quite catch up to a Rock Lobster racer but I trailed behind him until a Content Works rider caught me. I figured I'd suck his wheel but when I looked back I saw that he was pulling 2 other riders!
I figured I had better suck it up and attack then because there was only 1 1/2 laps to go.
It was a long gradual uphill (about 300 meters?) and then a hairpin 180 and around 50 meters to the start/finish. I just drilled it all the way to the top, sprinted around the turn and down past the start/finish line, and when I looked back I had a good sized gap. Yay!
After that there was a slightly winding descent for a minute, through the sand, and then sharp left into a run-up (or if you had a clear line and were feeling brave, a steep hill to impress spectators by riding.)
When I got to the sharp left section I leaned a bit to make the turn and my bike sort of flop-wobbled in a mostly straight but kinda leftish direction, telling my oxygen deprived brain that my front tire was a LOT mushier then it had been earlier in the race. Shit.
I lost about half of my gap to the 3 chasers with my incredibly awkward dismount and redirection of bike (and body) toward the runup and the other half of the gap was lost while I rode gingerly up the hill to the final turn, trying not to put any weight on the front wheel and not to turn unless I REALLY had to. The 3 chasers all passed me.
I made the last turn in slow motion, praying that I had time to get to the line before ANOTHER rider passed me. As soon as I had my bike pointed at the finish line I gave it all I had and nobody else caught me... although I'm pretty sure that if he had seen my flat tire he would've had all the incentive he needed to pass me.
Anyway, I think I got 25th place and since I got so lucky with my tire and was able to finish with only 3 riders passing me I really can't complain.
When I got back to the hotel I looked at my HRM file and figured that I was overtrained: my HR for the race was under 170!
The next day we raced at 8 and since there was only call-up for the top 20, Papo and I had to crawl our way up from the back.
I got lucky with my start because I was all the way over on the right side when someone stepped out of their pedal or something (?) and there was a huge cluster-f--k in the middle of the pack.
Anyway, it slowed down a lot of the group and helped me get up toward the front without my having to work too much for it.
It was a particular advantage on this course because there was NO place to pass for the next 9.5 miles.
My first lap was pretty strong but I started to fade at the end of it, with my back feeling really tight.
Towards the end of the 2nd lap a certain friend of mine from Ohio caught up to me and towed me for a bit until we caught another rider. I started to feel a bit better then, and I decided that it was now or never so I took him up on his offer to pass.
As we went into a turn, he went high and I went low. It got a little exciting then because with the speed of the turn, the centrifical (?) force pushed me up and out on the berm, and with a cloud of sand flying up I narrowly missed taking us both out!
I yelled something to him about getting "RAD" and he yelled something back about "lucky" and "would've punched you in the head".
I figured he was glued to my wheel but I tried to drop him anyway, and I caught a break (I think) when I went to pass the next semi-pro in line and the guy blew straight through a right hand turn, letting me pass but (I think) getting back on the trail in front of my buddy/nemesis.
After that it was just a drag race for the next 5-7 miles, with us both passing at least 5 or 6 semi-pro's and a handful of other racers before him finishing just one rider behind me.
I barely had time to open my Gatorade before Papo came rolling in with a semi-mangled rear derailleur due to some tool rear-ending him out on the course.
I'm guessing he had to put his single-speed skillz to work since he couldn't get onto the big end of his cassette?
I didn't flat though and I don't think Papo did either. After my triple flat last year I carried 3 tubes and a handful of CO2.
There were plenty of things to flat on though, and several of them ended up in my leg. You can see one glinting in the sun. I didn't notice until after the race though.
Then we went for an easy spin up the road with some other racers to cool down our legs and that's all she wrote.