Oakley Rob’s Morning of Fun couldn’t have come at a better time. The Science Center trails were close to perfect, damp and tacky in most spots. And it is one week before the big dance up at the Chequamegon 40 and it served as a great race pace tune up for my mind, legs and bike.
I started the morning off with one of my favorite things, shoving a plate of bacon, pancakes and a cheddar and goat cheese omelet down my pie hole. And then I like to wash it all down with a pot of coffee. All at the risk of tasting recycled bacon and eggs during my race while my heart is jumping out of my throat.
I arrived at the SC with an hour to spare, got signed up and then hit the trails for a course recon. As expected, Andy and Squirrel put together a great course that would probably net a finishing time of around 20 minutes for the top finishers. I never really know what to expect out of myself whenever I do a short race like this. It takes a little less fitness to do well and it tends to favor the better bike handlers. I also never really do a lot of LT training, with the exception of races on the weekends and the Tuesday Night World Championships.
I wanted to get at least 30 minutes of race pace work in, so I asked Chris to slot me in for an early start so that I could do a 2nd run later. I took a look at the start list and saw that my bro Kent Carlson was to start 4th. He’s fast and would make for a great rabbit to chase, so I slotted myself in 5th. Once Kent took off, I locked out both shocks and prepared to launch myself into orbit. The starter said go and off I went.
Shortly after I started up the road, my legs started to rebel at the violent effort that I was demanding of them. I stood up and drilled it until I could feel the lactic acid starting to build, then I sat down and continued the effort until I hit the dirt. I kept both shocks locked out until I got to the top of the grassy climb near the flower garden. As I began the descent back down, I released both shocks and let it fly.
I hit the singletrack and went through the Rollercoaster at fast as my technical prowess would allow. It’s not quite as fast as it used to be, the crazy weather from the early summer months really transformed a few sections and took away any familiarity that I once had. I still made pretty good time and hit the end of Rollercoaster looking for my minute man, Kent.
As I hit the Hillside I could see Kent near the top of the climb. This motivated me to push a little harder. As I progressed through the flowy, serpentine trails on the hillside, I could see that I was gaining on Kent. I kept pushing the pace and as we went through the log section, I closed the gap down to a couple of seconds. As we rode through the final section of singletrack, I had finally closed the gap. He saw me coming and hit the afterburner. I latched onto to his wheel and, even though there was no room to pass, began my search for a creative way to get by. My search ended shortly after it began, as common sense took over when I came to the realization that even if there was room to pass, I probably wouldn’t have gotten by. Kent was goin’ like a bat out of hell and it was all that I could do to stay on his wheel. In the end, I don’t think that I lost any time… we both probably gained some time by pushing each other deeper into the bowels of the pain cave.
I ended up with the winning time of 19:10. Kent and my numero uno coaching client, Padawan Gammell tied for 2nd with a time of 20:09. Andy came in 4th with a time of 20:23 and WWJ rounded out the top 5 with a time of 20:47. All of these cats are fast mountain bikers and I feel really good about being able to finish ahead of them for this type of race.
As soon as I had crossed the finish line from my first run, I was informed that my 2nd run was to begin in 30 seconds. As I lined up I did my best to shove my heart back down my throat. I had it about halfway down when the starter sent me on my way. I tore up the road again and my legs were a little less rebellious this time. They still hurt and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to cut a faster time than my first. I caught and passed a couple of racers on the Rollercoaster, one of the passes happened to halfway up one of the rollers where I can carry a lot of speed. I closed in on him sooner that I had expected and nudged my way by him. I tried to make myself as skinny as possible, so as to not shove the poor guy into a tree. As I went by, he apologized as if he were the one at fault. It was nobodies fault and wasn’t a big deal, nobody hit the deck and I had to slow a little though it was nothing significant.
I finished my 2nd effort with a time of 19:50 and was happy that I was able to get two excellent race pace efforts in. My average heart rate for both runs was 174 and I felt pretty good throughout both runs physically and mentally. On a side note, I never did get that taste of recycled bacon, eggs or coffee that I was fearful of. Things are looking pretty good for next weekend!
So next weekend is the big one, the Chequamegon 40 and my goal is to improve upon last years result of 13th overall. I finished 1st in my age group and I’ll be looking to do it again!
Thanks for reading,