I was hoping to put in a good effort last night, so I decided to do the Sundance race. After registering, I had time to do a quick 15 minute warm up before lining up. I started listening to the race instructions, and to my surprise, I learned that we would be doing the "lift race." The lift race consists of a quick shake-out loop up the paved road and down the twisty single track, followed by sitting on the ski lift to the top of the mountain, and then riding back to the base. It wasn't quite the type of effort I was expecting (longer and sustained), but I knew the intensity would be there. Most likely, the order you got on the lift would be the order you'd finish in, so the first climb was bound to be a lung-buster.
We took off at a high pace, as expected. The climb felt like someone was driving nails into my thighs and lungs, but I actually felt like I was climbing pretty well (for me). I'm not sure how long the climb lasted, but I'm pretty sure it was the hardest effort I've put in this year over that amount of time. I reached the top and came to a sorry realization. I suck at descending right after I'm completely red-lined. My focus is off, I have a hard time pushing through the flat and uphill sections, and I'm tentative on the turns. It didn't take long for one guy to zip past me on a flat open section, and for another guy to catch onto my wheel.
I was able to keep the guy from passing me on the way down, although I could tell he was DH'ing better than me. We hit the short stretch of pavement before a 3 foot rock wall that required a dismount to get up onto the grass before heading to the lift. He tried to pass on the dismount, but failed to account for my secret weapon. Last fall, I learned how to do a proper CX remount. While he was remounting like a normal person, I threw caution to the wind and jumped on with both feet, with nothing between the family jewels and the top tube but a 2 inch wide tip of a leather saddle. Somehow racing convinces us to do crazy things that would otherwise be completely out of the question. And we are willing to do it over and over again. Although this was my first attempt at a CX remount on a mountain bike, I landed successfully and comfortably arrived at the ski lift in front of my nearest competitor.
Keith arrived while we waited for the guys in front of us to get on the lift on load their bikes. The three of us shared a lift ride to the top, and Keith was kind enough to give me a swig of his beverage since I was too thick-skulled to remember to grab my bottle. During the lift to the top, Keith mentioned that there was an initial DH, followed by a climb, followed by a final DH.
We got off the lift, and I had a 10-20 second advantage due to my bike being loaded first. I started down the dirt road, and after a while, I remembered the instructions including something about a blind right turn off of the dirt road onto some 1-track that was easy to miss. I thought I'd missed it, so I slowed down to almost a stop, looked behind me and didn't see anything of interest, looked for tire tracks in front of me, and decided keep going. Sure enough, I saw the flags soon thereafter, and kicked myself for losing time.
I continued to DH rather poorly, and was caught by that same guy as the trail started to flatten out. No sooner did I let him by did the trail turn upwards again and I passed him right back. I was feeling good again and put a good gap on him on the climb. I finished the final descent ahead of him, but he was within sight of me again by the end. Time to learn to DH when I'm spent.
Since the lift race was a bit short on shammy time, I decided to go straight into work, with a quick detour around the Alpine Loop. I thought I'd be joining Rick and a couple of his Omniture buddies at the mouth of A.F canyon, but it turned out to be quite the event. I'm guessing close to 15 people were in the group, including Brad (so it was a race for second), Dug, Elden, Jon, Sam, Kris, Tony, Dave, Dave, and others. I burnt all of my high intensity matches the night before, but was able to maintain a decent steady effort, finishing the climb within sight of Sam and Rick. Fortunately, if I worked at Omniture, I would not be buying apple fritters today. All of this riding and talk of donuts is making me hungry.