Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dear Valley, '08

I got up, looked outside, and got right back into bed. The devil on one shoulder had an argument with the angel on the other about whether to go to the race. Apparently the devil ended up winning, because I got back up and went to the race.

I'll admit that on the way up, I was half hoping to see people pre-registering for a rain/snow delayed race and going home (like Draper), but alas, the race went on. The race started blazing fast again, so I guess this is just the way the experts roll. My legs were hurting early because they were freezing cold, but I could tell that I had some good energy. The legs warmed up quickly, and I was able to hang onto a wheel through the initial 1-track, and quickly made 2 passes at the base of Little Stick. I caught a 3rd guy at the top of the climb, but couldn't make the pass before the decent. He was taking things really cautiously on the DH (can't say I blame him given the conditions), but on the little climb after the initial descent, I made the pass. I soon had a gap on the guys behind me, and I went into chase mode. Due to some travel this past week, I hadn't ridden at all since Tuesday, so once I shook off the rust, I was feeling good.

Then, my chain suddenly dropped off my rear cogs and went into my wheel. I fixed it, got back on, and it happened again. I went through this routine two more times, expecting different results (yes, I am clinically insane), but kept having shifting problems. I eventually noticed that my rear derailleur was bent toward my wheel (not sure how it happened), so I bent it back and kept going, and I luckily didn't have another shifting problem the rest of the race. Unfortunately, I'm a slow mechanic (ironically, this gets worse when I'm in a big hurry), and I didn't get going again until my entire class had passed me, along with most of the 19-29s, some of the 40-49, and SS. Even the pro women were coming up the trail by the time I was rolling again.

I was riding, but had no motivation. I considered pulling the plug for a few minutes, but realized the only reason for doing so would so that I wouldn't finish last, which is a really stupid reason, so I figured I may as well get a good hard ride in. I pushed the rest of the race and ended up reeling in a few guys in my class. According to my bike computer, my total rolling time was about 4 minutes less than my actual finish time, and I was able to complete the second lap over a minute faster than the rolling time of my first. I'd like to think that without losing my rhythm and motivation, I could have saved that minute on my first lap. I finished with plenty left in the tank, and wished that the race hadn't been shortened from 2 laps to 3 (I mean shoot, we're already muddy, so what's 1 more lap?).

The race was good and bad. It's a bummer to prepare for a race, feel good, and have a mechanical. If it's this disappointing for me, imagine the dudes that train their entire lives for the Olympics, and then have a false start, get sick, fall off the balance beam, or maybe they're even in the Mtb event and bend their derailleurs. Those dudes should be placed on suicide watch. Good thing this happened in the I-Cup, and not in a few months when I'm racing in Beijing. However, I felt good, and came away with some confidence.

Rick must thrive in the cold. He and I climbed Squaw Peak a few weeks ago in some cold rain. He cruised up to the top without me while I struggled to even turn over the pedals. He did the same thing in the cold today at D.V., landing himself a podium spot with the S.S. class. My pal Paz tore it up today as well in my class, pulling his first win of the season against some tough competition. Nice work, fellas.


Rick Sunderlage said...

Aaron, nice race. I would have pulled out with a mechanical like that. Good to see you hung in there and kept going.

Also good to see you w/ the Expert class.

Eat Sleep MTB said...

Zenger always sprints off the front, or at least in every race I have been in with him. So naturally everyone follows. Not every race starts as fast as Sundance and DV, like 5-mile and draper had slow roll.