Sunday, September 30. Sam Barlow High School, Gresham, OR. 35+A race.
Well, as a friend of mine once said, you can’t have a good race every time out (that was Terry Keele, by the way). There were definitely some good points along with the very bad. The most disappointing thing was that I gave up on the race with more than a lap to go. I was out of it. There was one point I looked at my HRM and I’m running 20 bpm lower than I usually average for a race. I just wasn’t pedaling hard.
Let me say that conditions were epic and that it was sometimes difficult to put power to the pedals. Portland got an inch or so of rain on Friday. Then it started raining again late on Saturday evening and continued at a steady pace through all the races. By the 2:00 race, things were boggy, sloppy, and rutted.
I got a pretty good start and managed to hang off the back end of the top ten for the early laps. By the third lap, I was getting ready to ride into a loose bunch of five or six when a bobble through some ruts put me 10 meters back. Then another bobble put me even further off the pace. Then I took a really poor line and lost some more ground.
Early in the fourth lap, my rear mech quit working on the A bike. Unfortunately, it was stuck in the 25. I think if it were the 21, I would have continued with the A bike, being content with the 38-21 and 44-21 my front rings afforded me. Anyway, I lost more ground since I spun out on everything not uphill. There was a whole lotta course to navigate to get to the pits.
I took a bike change which meant I gave up the Grifo Challenge for the Tufo Flexus. This was a real disadvantage. I was off the bike even more than I had been previously. And when I was off the bike, I was slooooooow. Oh, I don’t recommend taking a spill and go sliding down a trail of flowing mud with blackberry brambles lining the side. Ouch. I’ve got quite pattern of cuts on my right thigh.
I didn’t have the edge today I needed. When the going got tough, I wimped out. However, I did learn quite a few lessons today.
- I need to get a new set of the Sidi toe spikes. I have a set but for many races, they are just too long. So I took the Dremmel and cut them in half. I’ve been using them for years and this was the first course where I really felt they were woefully inadequate. I need the fangs.
- I need to get a second pair of Challenges. They are quite a bit better in the mud than the Tufo Flexus. Since muddy races are where I’m most likely to need a bike change, I don’t want to have to feel timid taking the exchange.
- I need to relax more through the rutted stuff. More than a couple times I found myself sideways which meant I was putting a foot down or otherwise losing my momentum.
Okay, so what sunny spin can I put on this race?
- I’ve got the legs to crack the top ten. This wasn’t a Crusade race so the field was a little thinner. However, I’m convinced that I’ve got the legs.
- The Challenges rock in the mud. I feel really confident on those tires.
- I still finished 16 out of 31 finishers (35 starters). Middle of the pack and I have a crappy race. Not too bad.
Regardless of how well or poorly I placed, it was great to get out and see a bunch of folks I haven’t run into in quite a while. And the best way to understand what weaknesses need fixing is by racing.
One last note … I’ve never been dirtier after a race. I had mud all up and down inside my clothes. I had mutherf*&%$ing rocks in my shoes. I think I had a couple of sand bars building up under my arches.