Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The race I Almost Didn't Finish

The night before the race I had all the usual excitement of a pre race. I even stopped at The Epic Ride in Orangeville and picked up a new Chain, lube, a tool, and a cycling computer. That night once we reached the cottage I tore the bike down and did some fixing. I lubed up the new chain in the morning and was headed 30 mins south to the race. We were a little behind on time so I was stressing a little but all would be well. I finished off my registration and picked up my race package. From there I dropped off my 6 pack for the 6 pack throwdown of the Solo Singlespeed group (A fun side race which includes beer and conversations after the race). Back at camp I got in my gear gave the bike one lst go over and headed down to the start line.

At this point everything was normal. This is what a race start feels like. go Go Go, wait for a bit then go. Nothing out of the ordinary except for the large beads of sweat building all over me while standing still. Then the race started and off we went. A cloud of clay dust immediately lifted from the course and our eyes and lungs were filled quickly. I passed by My wife and kids smiled and waved and then put my game face on and rode.

The first four laps were awesome even with some course congestion on the first two. It was a fun course but most of the trails had just recently been cut and we had been in drout mode for well over 2 weeks. The trails needed some wet and a pack down. It ended up being very washboardy and dusty with loose corners and a decent amount of technical challenges. All in all fun with only a couple real climbs and the rest was just short ups and downs. 1'st half of the course was a gradual climb and second had more decent. You always finished off each lap with more energy than you had 1/2 way.

All in all writing this I am beginning to wonder what went wrong?? About 4 hours into the day I let the heat get to me. Even with sponge baths and watermelon at the Solo transition area i was overheating. I was drinking lots and even dumping more water over myself in solo pits. When the heat got to me it got into my head. I unfortunately was also studying results at the transition each lap and finding myslef further back than I wanted to be in the results. If I had been paying more attention I had had a slower first lap than many and was actually fighting back well.

I met up with another rider who had caught me in the solo pits after I had a fairly long rest period. I thought he was a slower rider but he ended up being the eventual 3rd place rider in the race. I rode with him for most of our 8th lap and picked up on some of his tricks for riding this course. Late in the lap i decided to pass and loose him. I hammered out most of the rest of the lap and when getting my sponge bath and looking back there he was. A crucial mistake had been made. I used more energy than necessary. I should have waited a few laps to try to pass. A lap or two later I met another rider in the sponge transition and assumed he was in position 1 or 2 and I was being lapped. This tore me down a little further. I went to camp and ran into another Singlespeeder who had just dropped out due to heat exhaustion. I had heard just before that my family was coming back in a couple hours and that they were making signs.

I think the only thing that kept me in the race battling the heat and my mental demons was the idea of those signs. When they arrived I had a surge of energy and finished stronger than I had been. All in all those two guys I let pass between lap 8 and 11 were 3rd and 4th place. I was happy to come in 5th in the singlespeed solo category as I had thought I was riding around 8th or 9th all day. It is amazing how much of a race is mental.

Looking back I would have been really pissed at myself if I had quit and I am glad I pushed forward. I thank my Family for their support.

More photos over on my tumblr here...

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