Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Missouri State Championship race recap

Saturday was the Missouri State Championship mountain bike race.  It was held at Castlewood state park and was part of the United Federation of Dirt series.  I love riding at Castlewood and was really looking forward to this race; especially after my DNF at Warsaw the week before.  I needed redemption.

I made the trip to St. Louis on Thursday and was able to pre-ride the course Friday morning.  I knew it was going to be a challenge but I did a couple laps and felt pretty good.  It sprinkled a bit during my ride but it didn't effect the trail and everything was mostly dry and tacky which is perfect for racing.

The turnout for this race was great with some of the best riders from all over the state.  There was Ploch, , Breslin, Kakouris, Elwell, Rines, ect.  You get the picture.  Lots of fast people I've never beaten.  I started sweating as soon as I stepped out of the car.  It was going to be a tough day.

I caught a ride to the park with Rock Wamsley which caused me to pack much lighter than I normally do.  I tried to bring only what I'd need which I figured was 4 16oz bottles of water with 2 scoops of Heed in each.  It was a 4 lap, approximately 2 hour race, so 1 bottle every half hour should be plenty.  Or so I thought.

Walking around and warming up pre-race was causing me to sweat quite a bit so I started "stealing" from my race bottles by sipping out of them to try to keep from starting the race dehydrated.  I did go over to the water fountain and drink quite a bit there, but I don't think I was getting enough.

This race was using the same chip timing system that was used at last year's Burning at the Bluff race.  It is a pretty cool system and I wish more races would take advantage of it.  Now if they could set up a large screen LCD at the start/finish with realtime results and splits that would be even better.

The start of the race was a mass start for all experts (and one sport rider) which I really prefer.  They sent us up the double track hill on Lone Wolf which is a fairly short but very steep climb.  It's so steep that they won't let anyone ride their bike down it.  I wanted to go hard up the hill but I didn't want to go too hard and blow up.  It was going to be a two hour effort and as long as I didn't get behind too many people I would be fine.  I was pretty shocked when I looked over on the climb and saw Chris Ploch;  I guess we had the same idea.

I made it to the top of the hill in about 15th place and here's a video of the sketchy descent after you crest the hill.  I come through at :43 (there's a couple wrecks and near misses of you watch the whole thing).

Right after that climb/descent we came through the start/finish area and soon started up the Grotpeter trail which isn't nearly as steep as the starting hill but much longer.  I went pretty hard up this hill and passed several people.  All of them dropped back except one; Travis Donn.  He hung on and each time I looked back he was keeping me in sight.

Grotpeter lead to the roller coaster which is one of the funnest trails I've ever ridden.  It's only shortfall is that it isn't longer.  I love that trail.  After that we took the Mountain Ridge connector back towards the main park road, followed by a CCW loop around Lone Wolf and back to the start/finish.  All told the laps were a little over 5 miles. 

My problems started pretty early.  Before the race I set up a table near the start/finish line to hold the bottles and planned to pick up one each lap.  When I finished the Roller Coaster trail on the first lap I ran out of water in the bottle I was carrying.  That was less than halfway through the lap.    I had Travis dogging me the entire lap and I was riding really hard but I really needed some water.  When I finished the first lap and grabbed my second bottle I immediately downed over half of it which didn't leave me much for the rest of the lap.   I finished the first lap in about 28 minutes.

Going up Grotpeter Travis passed me and I tried to hang with him but I couldn't.  I just felt weak.  I soon ran out of water (again) and was just hanging on, trying to go as fast as possible.  Then I was caught by Dan Miller racing in Sport Single Speed (who started at least a minute after we did).  He was riding really well and again I tried to hang on but couldn't.  The Lone Wolf climb was very difficult and when I finished the second lap (around 30 minutes) I stopped at the scorers table and asked if anyone had any water or anything to drink.  The event promoter, Ralph Pfremmer tossed me a water bottle and I downed it on the spot.   Man that was a lifesaver!

When I picked up my own bottle I didn't need to slam it and it actually lasted me until the Lone Wolf climb.  But I still felt like crap and just wanted to finish the race.  Again, Lone Wolf was hell.  My lap time was over 31 minutes.

The forth lap wasn't so bad because I knew I was almost done and that is a huge mental boost.  The lap wasn't any faster (31 min) but it wasn't as painful as the 2nd and 3rd lap.  I didn't have anyone chasing me down so I just took my time and rode it out.

I finished the race in 9th overall and 7th in the Cat 1 30-39 class.  I'm pretty happy with that result.  I think I could have done better but everyone that beat me and several that didn't are all very good riders so I feel good being amongst them.  There were lots of racers that weren't able to finish the race due to the heat and demands of the course.

I found lots of pictures of from the race.  Here are the galleries and below are the ones of me.

This creek was the most refreshing part of the lap.  I wanted to lay down in it.
Smiling because it's almost over!

Here's a link to my garmin data for the day.    You can find most of the chip timings here.

Thanks to the promoter (especially for that bottle of water) and volunteers for putting on a great and challenging race.  The post-race food was excellent!

Next up is the Lost Valley Luau.  I plan to take much more water to this one.

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