This year was all about change. I decided that I am tired of burning myself out on training and racing. I decided that I just needed to get back to riding bikes for fun. And that is just what I’ve done this year. Rather than bind myself to a rigid training schedule, I just ride when I want to. Tuesday night brick workouts, Thursday night group rides, riding bikes is FUN again!
Yesterday was an amazing day for a mountain bike race. The weather could not have been any better. It was very nice to sleep in an actual bed the night before this race too (I’ll be camping before big races no more). 4:45am came pretty early on Saturday but I felt rested and refreshed and was ready to race. I ate as much as I could for breakfast and headed to the Big M.
I am pleased to report that I had a pretty uneventful race. The roll out is always interesting on a single speed. I lined up in the front half, spun my balls off and got passed by about 200 people that I knew I’d catch and pass in the single track. As always the first lap is a bit of a pain trying to match speeds with people in front of you. Why is it that no one can cruise down hills without brakes? Easy on the gravity jokes there folks… There were brake bumps (BAD ones) on sections of trail that didn’t even require braking.
I was on cruise control all day- trying not to blow myself up early. I stopped at the aid stations and walked the hills I couldn’t ride. I was focusing on keeping my heart rate down and breathing under control, I knew I had a long day ahead of me. Coming up the cement step and around the corner, I saw the start line, I was sure I was seeing things, 2:54:44? Really? I was well on pace to attaining my (now seemingly achievable) goal of 10 hours. After a quick stop to refuel (perogies!) and fill up water I was on my way.
Lap two was much more of the same. I rode with a guy named Rob from Ann Arbor for quite a while. I had a few moments of suffering (the 10 miles after the aid station were a bitch! I swear it was ALL up hill). I had a few moments of worrying that I hadn’t eaten enough or had eaten too much. The aid station was great. Seeing familiar faces is one heck of a pick-me-up. I was in a great mood after the stop and it helped me finish the lap.
Lap three and a bit more suffering. I rode most of this lap alone. I’m glad to have had my mp3 player with me (Metallica, Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash). I caught up with Jeremy Karel a few miles before the Aid Station and rode with him for a bit. After the stop it was much more of the same. I was feeling pretty good after the stop so I decided to pick it up a bit. I passed a few guys on single speeds and I saw Steve Kunnath in the distance (thankfully, he was walking the same hills I was). Steve is a monster and I just couldn’t catch him. I did pass my buddy Craig about ½ a mile from the finish line (also on a single speed).
Even though my lap times were slower each lap I felt pretty strong throughout the race. I pedaled my way to a 9:04:04 and that was good for 21st in the single speed category. I had a bit too much gear (32x16x29) and next year I’ll take an 18t on the back. It was great to see old friends and meet some new ones. Great job to all of the 19 Greyhounds! Rick Plite’s events are always top notch and this was no exception. Thanks to all of the volunteers and everyone else that made this race possible!