75 miles with a mountain top finish that not just steep but #$&%%@^ steep! I will be the first to tell you that this is not my ideal type of race. For those of you that know me or have read my stuff for awhile know that I have a love/hate thing with climbing. Yet I still challenge myself with lotsa climbing heavy events just 'coz.
I hate myself is one possible reason I torture myself like I do (The new NTMBA jerseys look cool huh?)
After registration, (did I mention it was cold?) I tooled around and chatted with friends and took pictures with adorable young fans.
My biggest fan. Too bad his hoodie was too small for me, I would have taken it!
The first 10 miles or so were mostly down to flat and slightly rolling. In short, I froze my ass off until we got to a climb big enough to get the blood flowing. My plan and the day's goals were to stay with the leaders to the base of Powell Valley Mtn (60-something miles into the race and the start of the real fireworks) and to stay near the front to be in a good position to react to any critical breaks. I wanted to finish in the top 20 and in less than 4 hours. It was working fine until about 1:20 into the race and a short steep climb made the first selection of the day. I got dropped but was able to bridge back up to what was now the chase group as a few riders slipped off the front. I didn't worry though. I was in good company with last years winner and a few heavy hitters in the pack. I felt like I was in the right place to be. We were flying, our pace was over 20mph and the small rollers were getting bigger and causing me trouble. I got dropped four more times in the next 15 miles and chased back on 3 times. In the process, buring fuel like a Saturn V rocket.
Where I got dropped for good was a 5ish mile long stairstep climb that is really tough because a group can maintain a lot of speed but if you are alone, you hate life. I caught one person but he was no help then I caught up with David Smith, a good friend and sometimes riding buddy. We were able to help each other to the penultimate climb at Powell Valley mtn. Even though we both were hurting pretty bad, we still managed to keep our average speed above 20mph all the way to the climb.
I lost touch with David when I had to stop to pee and rode the climb alone until the very top when the guy I passed earlier caught back up to me. That didn't figure into my plan at the moment but I didn't feel like a game of cat and mouse at the moment either. Two miles of flat led us to the final climb to Flag Rock (that verticle line at the end of the course profile above). My companion started the climb ahead of me but he didn't look too strong (come to think of it, neither did I) I passed him after about 3/4 mile and saw David ahead. I wanted to catch him but I didn't have anything left in my legs. After thinking about it, I wouldn't have passed him if I could because he did more work than I did down in the valley and I appreciated it.
I was really hurting and really happy when I saw the Flag Rock sign. There was finally some relief in the way of just a bit of flat before the finish line. I happened to look back and there was the guy that I dropped twice already and he was making a run to nip me at the line. After 75 miles and all that climbing, I had to sprint! Damn it hurt but I put in a few hard digs and finished him off.
I finished in 17th OA, 11th in age group and in 4:13, thirteen minutes shy of my pre-race goal. I was happy with that although I would have liked to have done better.
Gives me something to work on for next year.