Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chalk Creek Race Report

Chalk Creek Race Report, or How the Mountain States Cup went Big Time:

The first cross-country race of the year (for me) and in the Mountain States Cup was yesterday in Nathrop. The course is pretty unique for the typical MSC schedule which usually centers itself on ski resorts with big climbs. Chalk Creek is held on a cattle ranch with one short steep climb, a lot of false flats and one short downhill. There is some fun single track after the downhill, but for most of the race you are on cattle path or service roads.

I showed up to the race on Saturday with less than ideal preparation was running late and was just glad to actually make it to the start line. As SLY says to race well you need to train, eat, sleep and repeat, if you throw in a bunch of other stuff you aren’t sleeping enough and your racing won’t be great. To give you an idea of my week leading up to the race training was minimal, work was more than it should have been, my mom was in the hospital and Friday, which I had planned to take off to relax ended up with going to work at 5:30, working till 9:30, riding hard home to see field day, riding to the hospital, riding home to pick up Shay, cleaning the house, then driving with Ade to pick up car #2 after way too much in repair bills so I could race. By the time Saturday came around I wasn’t racing for fun, I was racing because I had invested so much time already this year in training and I wanted to get out and finally race.

When I got to the start area, which was about a 10 minute ride from parking, I was shocked. The little old MSC had been replaced by a full pit area, lots of team rigs, pro level signage, close to a NORBA National. It’s fun to see what a little cash infusion can do for a series, many improvements but the good from last year (and the years before) was still around. The small local club teams still had tents up, most of the people working the races were the same and many of the racers were the same. Having moved up to Expert midway through last season this was my first MSC race as an expert and I wasn’t sure what to expect after a winter of training in solitude. The race started fast, and with about 40 racers in the 35-39 age group it was tough to see because the road was very dusty. By the time we hit the first (and only real) climb I was towards the back half of the group. My goal for the race was to ride steady and consistent for the race and see how I did against the expert field. I’ve been riding a lot of hours, but little intensity so I was hoping to be able to maintain or pick people off at the end. I felt good the first lap and ripped a 33:30 first lap time which is about 2.5 minutes faster than before on the course. Starting the second lap I was riding with a few people and feeling good. I did loose ground a few times on tighter sections of single-track, mostly I think because of very limited riding on the dirt this year. Including the race I’ve ridden in the dirt 3 times this year so the technical skills are off to say the least. But overall the second lap kept me near the same people and I put in another 33:30. To start to third lap I got ahead of the people I had been riding with on the short climb and kept it going on the false flat on the top. I felt pretty good to have actually put distance on a few riders and not feel like I was out of my league in the expert race. Coming through at the end of 3 laps I was at 1:40 for the race. Three laps is the sport distance so lap 4 was uncharted ground for me. I wanted to keep steady and stay in front of the people who I had gapped on the third lap. I started the lap feeling good, but on the false flat my legs started to give and I eased up the pace. By the time of the downhill (about 8 minutes to the finish) I could barely pedal or keep the bike going. I managed to get some more Gatorade down and hung on tight to the finish without getting passed.

I ended up at 2:17 for the race. Not sure of a placing as I had to leave right after, and I mean right after, I was on the road back to Denver 20 minutes after I finished. The race was good. Clearly I have a long way to go in the Expert group but compared to the second half of last year I don’t feel completely overwhelmed. I do need to figure out how to do intervals that will get me more competitive/increase my tempo pace. I’ll start to work on that soon and hopefully by June will be even more competitive.