Monday, July 26, 2010

Race Report - Michaux Curse of Dark Hollow

This is not a race I expected to do even two weeks ago.   I had resigned my self to a slow recovery from treatment, then I tweaked my wrist a couple weeks ago (maybe fractured, maybe not?) and I really thought nothing would happen until the fall.  I could tell my climbing was not up to par and I wasn't sure I had the energy to place myself in a race situation and put forth the effort necessary to at least have a respectable run.  

But the wrist didn't keep me from riding, and almost by accident I pre-rode this course last weekend on a short trip up to PA.   Driving back that weekend we discussed the quality of the course compared to the local race.   By Monday I was hard pressed to come up with a reason NOT to go back and do the race, since I had a good look at almost the whole course and thought with a little more preparation (food and drink) I could make a good run of it.

So here's the official report.




Drove up with Ilana on Sunday to race the course we pre-rode last weekend (by luck). It was hot, but the elevation, slight dip in temps and slightly dryer air made it, if not comfortable, certainly noticably better than Saturday around D.C. We got there around 9:00 am and as we were registering we saw Mike T. headed out for the 40 mile race - I think he finished 10th (overall?) in around 4 hours.

Our 20 miler started at 10. They did a LeMans style start, so we ran away from the bikes, through the short finishing chute and back out towards the bikes. First couple miles was technical downhill single track. It was narrow but there were a few places to pass. Then rolling rocky single track for the first 7 miles or so until we got to the first checkpoint/water station. I slowly gained positions but also tried to keep my HR rate down since I knew blowing up on this course would make for an unbearably long day. Just like the pre-ride I flatted on that rocky single track. As I was fixing it, Ilana passed by and told me she was chasing the 1st place woman. Got my flat sorted out (thank God I had TWO CO2 cartriges) and passed Ilana back on one of the uphill gravel road climbs. (There were a few of these, and I was able to make good time on them w/o taxing the legs too much) After another long rocky downhill I passed the leading woman on another gravel road climb and let her know that my teammate was chasing her. It was a good distance between passing Ilana and passing her, so Ilana made up a sizable distance to finaly take the lead.
At the second chekpoint (14 miles?) I had them refil my bottle with Cytomax and borrowed an allen wrench to snug down the linkage bolt on my suspension - it had been rattling and was loosening up. From there it was into the woods again for double/single track climbs into the (almost) finishing singletrack. This was a meandering, sometimes rocky section in a pine forest. It's lots of fun when you're fresh, not so much when you're flagging. Throughout the second half of the course I'd see occasional riders just sitting by the side of the trail - apparently cooked for the moment. One more fireroad climb, and on this one I started to run out of gas. There was a rider ahead I assumed I should catch, but I just didn't have the energy left to try and run him down. From there we turned onto a powerline trail - downhill leading to a short, steep sun exposed climb (think Wakefield in July), then turned back into the pine forest for more meandering rocky single track. I think my Camelbak emptied out here, but it didn't matter as I still had the Cytomax bottle from the last aid station. I was definitely close to done and just looking for the finishing chute. Lots of almost cramping going on.

I think they said I was 19th overall for 20 mile racers and I wound up 4th for the Vets.  I was slightly in shock that my first race back I had a legitimate placing.  My expectations were definitely middle of the pack. 

After WE were done and cleaning up a bit the T-storms came through with many riders still out on course. That had to be interesting. Glad I finished before that. It would have made those last sections of tight rocky singletrack much more difficult, especially if you were worn out at the end of a 3+ hour hard ride.

1 comment:

  1. awesome race! goal for next time: no flats.

    ReplyDelete