This might quite possibly be the most boring race report I’ve ever written. I generally had a great race, but the results were not very impressive.
As I mentioned before- Saturday I took as a very relaxing recovery day. I had a good night’s sleep Saturday night and woke up in plenty of time to eat, pack up the hotel room, and get to downtown Prescott before the crowds took all of the good parking spots. I changed and started rolling around to get a good warmup.
The awesome thing about racing the Pro category (other than getting to meet some of my favorite MTB heros on the start line) is that the 44 of us entered were privileged to our own start. Anyone who has ever raced an NUE race (or the Whiskey 50-proof amateur race the day before) can attest to the misery of traffic jams that result when huge numbers of riders of all shapes/sizes/abilities (whether real or perceived) all take off at the same time. Instead of arriving at the start 15 minutes early to elbow my way up to a good spot on the line, I meandered my way over once I heard the men’s race start 10 minutes ahead of us.
The race began with a gunshot fired by an old guy in old-time western costume. The course starts with a long climb out of town. It’s eerily quiet with the exception of the pockets of crowds that had gathered to cheer us along. At first, the pace remained easier than I thought it would as we negotiated the last of the city streets. However, once the road went to gravel and pitched up steeply, the leaders kicked it up, and the group strung out with me about 3/4 of the way back. I knew the pace I could maintain, and I knew that some of the women ahead of me were going harder than what they should, so I stuck with my effort and soon started to reel them in one at a time.
“Reeling them in” is a relative term here. Yes, I passed ladies who generally never passed me back. However, I wasn’t passing the women who were using my same strategy, but had all-around better fitness than me.
The only difficulty I suffered during the race was coming up the long dirt road climb out of Skull Valley. I was doing a great job of “singlespeeding it” by picking a really comfortable gear and standing/using my bodyweight to go faster than I could seated for the same amount of effort (it’s a learned skill- if you’ve never done much singlespeed climbing, you’ll find that until you figure it out otherwise, you’ll use more energy standing than you do when you sit). Example- if I stand and climb at a heart rate of ~170bpm, I’m going 9mph, whereas, if I sit and spin at ~170bpm, I’m only doing 8 mph.
Anyways… I got a terrible case of hot foot (I think?) My outer two toes on both feet felt like someone was clamping them into a vice and they were about to explode off of the end of my foot. I was forced to sit. I’d been hanging with Li’l Karen Jarchow for a while, but when the toe thing screwed up my singlespeeder mojo, she dropped me like the 105 pounds of stone cold killer that she is. I still passed a couple more ladies on my way to the top, but I wasn’t a happy camper.
Once I was up to the overlook where I’d taken photos on Friday, I made the right hand turn and started the descent back down to town. The descending out there was a ton of fun, though once I nearly made contact with a prickly pear cactus bush the size of a smartcar. I stayed on the gas the whole way in to make sure that no one caught up to me.
My finish time was 4 hours, 10 minutes. 27th place. Meh-pic!
Don’t get me wrong- given the all-star nature of the field, I wasn’t expecting a top 10 (or even necessarily top 15) finish. I was, however, hoping to be at least in the top half of the finishers. I’ve come to the following conclusions: A) Fitness is the obvious improvement. That’s a work in progress, as always, but this just provides a little extra something in the back of my head next time I don’t think I have the extra 5 watts at the end of an interval. B) The altitude had a little bit to do with it. It was day #3 at ~5300ft, so it would explain why I’d felt like a rockstar on Friday but maybe a little blunted on Sunday. C)I have to go downhill faster. That’s a tough one to work on in Memphis because the hills here are short. Descending at 20mph is what feels “normal” to me. When I get to where the descents are longer and faster, it feels crazy- I’m just not accustomed to the speed. It’s kinda like when you go from a state where the speed limit is 70mph to one where it’s 75mph. When you make that 5mph jump on the cruise control, it feels like you’re flying at first, but by the time you’re at the next state where it goes back to down, 70 feels like you’re standing still. I realized at Breck Epic last year that I can adapt to the speed pretty quickly with a little practice. It’s just finding a way to practice less brake and more shred. Maybe I need to learn to ride a moto… though that could become a “habit” in and of itself.
So, it was a good race to see both my strengths (I did a great job with pacing and nutrition), and my weaknesses (listed above). Trans-Transylvania is on the horizon, and it’s slated to be another stellar field of women. Along the way there, some hard training, a birthday, and Syllamo’s Revenge. Commence to hard work…