After my race last week, my legs were feeling rather leaden. Following Saturday races I’ve been taking Sunday off the bike then riding through the week. Some weeks that means a little intensity on Monday, Bridge Club on Wednesday, and a moderate ride on Friday. And easy going on Tuesday and Thursday. Last week, I went easy on Monday and Tuesday, Bridge Club on Wednesday, off the bike on Thursday and an easy ride on Friday. Even with that my legs had no punch racing on Saturday.
The course was pretty flat except for a canyon the course dropped into and out of twice per lap. There were a number of features in the flat sections to keep things interesting and the rain overnight spiced up all the corners. My legs felt like crap in pre-rides and I wasn’t sure whether it was just regular feeling like crap before all my races or actual crap feelings. So hard to tell. Compounding all this was the fact that the Cross Crusade had decamped to Bend for the weekend and a lot of the big names would be racing there. Consequently I had a better chance for a good result based on who actually showed to race.
I second guessed myself and changed out the 18t cog for a 20t. But while I was warming up right before my race I changed my mind again and put the 18t back on the bike. There were a few more than a dozen of us at the line and I felt pretty confident that there were at least three guys faster than me — Sam Nicoletti, (who did the A race too), John Lin, and a Portobello dude. I figured I could take the rest except for Scott Barker. Scott might make a race of it.
The whistle blew and right away Sam, John, and Portobello guy were in front with Scott and I right behind them. Within the first quarter of the course, the five of us had separation on the rest of the field. Scott and I were hanging close to the front three going into the off camber section. I was fifth wheel and everyone but me made it through clean. I had a line from pre-ride but I stubbornly refused to use it all race long. So going into the canyon I was gapped.
I rode the first half of the hill out of the canyon and then ran the rest. I made it through the pocket park in good order and dropped back into the canyon using due caution. I wished I felt more comfortable on the swoopy trails and then made the turn to climb back out. The climb back out was all run and I saw Scott almost walking up ahead. I’m no speedster on my feet but I was faster than Scott. I was on him again at the top and passed him just past the finish line.
By that time, the three leaders were gone and Scott and I battled the rest of the race for fourth place. I was faster in some places and Scott was faster in others. I tried to push harder in the places I was faster and kept hoping that the string would break and he would drop off the pace. But he was having none of it. The good news for me was that he was *slow* on the run up and I was consistently passing the finish line (less than a minute from the top of the run) with a gap.
When I took the bell I had a good gap. I wanted to keep it and head into the canyon first since Scott was faster on the singletrack. Though I flubbed the off camber in spectacular fashion, I made it into the canyon first with Scott right behind. I put a small gap on him when we got off to run. Then I pushed it harder as we continued up to the top of the pocket park. In front of me was a B rider and I immediately formulated a plan to get that guy between me and Scott before the final long section of singletrack. After exiting the playground wood chips, I hit the pedals hard and made a sweet pass as we rode up a little side hill.
Mission accomplished. Entering the canyon, and I had a slower racer between Scott and me. I rode along the canyon bottom as well as I had any lap and smoothly turned to start the run. I worked the run as best I could and remounted at the top with legs nearly dead. As I approached the final barrier, and I glanced back and saw I had a huge gap on Scott and soft pedaled it to the line. Fourth place out of 15 riders.
I plan to take three days off the bike this week and I’m also considering skipping Bridge Club. I want to feel rested for the next race.