With the rain throughout the week prior, I was beginning to think that this would be a repeat of last year’s slog in the mud, and mentally prepared for that sort of race.Preriding on Saturday just as the last of the major rainstorms blew over, it was clear that while the course was wet, it had taken the rain quite well and would dry up quickly.By my 1:30 start on Sunday the weather was perfect and the course had recovered very well.So well they decided to re-add the green monster climb to our race.I’m not sure if anyone was really happy about that, but it’s certainly a good challenge for the legs.
After blowing up 3 laps into my race at Mansfield, I knew I needed to pace myself better and decided a heart rate monitor would help me do that.I lined up behind Justin Henri and off the gun followed him through the start loop and up into a mid-pack position.
Throughout the first lap holding his wheel was almost too easy, and I was perhaps reserving too much.I pulled ahead and away at some point and pushed my pace a bit, but it still seemed manageable.At some point he caught me, finding his legs and soon left me behind.Toward the end of the lap however, we were back together going into lap 2.
Lap 2 was much of the same, although Justin rode away from me up the green monster and it was all I could to to get over the top.For the most part however, this lap was uneventful and I felt like I was riding better and maybe speeding up a bit.
I was riding back and forth with Zoltan as we hit the feed zone on lap 3 where he grabbed his bottle and subsequently put in an attack just fierce enough to get away.I thought I might catch him once the ground leveled out a bit, but when I came around the top he was gone.I now had a carrot, but he was out of sight which makes it a bit harder.
Up the green monster my legs were starting to knot up and I decided to dismount, since it seemed to be common among those I was riding near and as such I wouldn’t lose any spots doing so.It was a good call to save my legs at this point.
Coming down goat path some elites were lapping through and I was doing my best to get down the switchbacks and on to the doubletrack as quickly as possible to let them by.This turned out to be too quick, and when I hit the muddy ditch at the bottom I lost my front wheel and ended up sliding into the bushes on my back.I was slow to get up, and though my bike seemed fine the front shifting was pretty much gone due to various things being full of mud and twigs.As such I did my best to ride it out, but I was simply not going fast at all.I was spinning around with my HR at 170 bpm, not racing.Since I couldn’t seem to get going again, I decided there was no point in doing a 4th lap in my little ring at this dreadfully slow pace, so I called it.I do not like to DNF but there was not even a training benefit from the pace I was doing after the crash.
Overall, I am happy with how my fitness was going and my handling through the singletrack.I just need to further dial in my nutrition and pacing and I think I’ll have a handle on how I need to ride in Expert.From there it is just a matter of not making these mistakes and trying to improve incrementally.