Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Living Up to Its Name

This weekend I took on the Julian Death March. I did this race last year and placed first in the open category. This year the course was to be about 12 miles longer with a bit more elevation gain. The past two years the overall winner did it on a cross bike. The majority of the course takes place on paved roads, control roads, and double track, very little single track. This year, however the racers that followed this cross bike thinking really suffered. The descents were fast and twisty, early on the climbing was soft and sandy, climbs late in the first loop were littered with rocks making it tough for skinny tired races to negotiate. At times during these climbs even racers with fat tires were relegated to walking. Full mt. bikes were the way to go this year.

For me the race started off well. I got down the first decent unscathed, maybe a little farther behind the pack than I'd like to be, but I had all day to catch up. As I start up the first climb I witnessed the first skinny tire victim struggling to keep his rear tire from spinning out. As I continued I stared to pick off racers one by one. By the time I got to the first aid station I had made up about five places. This is where I took note of my first mistake, I wasn't drinking enough. After about an hour of racing I had only taken in half a water bottle. At the next aid station I had only taken in one more bottle. I didn't feel the effects of these mistakes until the last long climb on loop one, and oh man did I feel the effects. Any time I need to get off the bike to go through a grate my hammy would knot up. I started cramping up in places I never had before, this race was really starting to live up to its name. I downed both bottles on this section of the course, but the sun was baking, and it was too late to recover from mistake made earlier in the day. I knew I just needed to make it to the aid station and I would be o.k., not great but o.k. After what seemed like forever I had reached the top of the canyon and was in the meadow on the way to the aid station. I loaded up on fruit, crackers and peanut butter, and heed. Thank god for the aid stations and the folks working them. They were great all day long. So good to see a friendly face out there when your turning yourself inside out.

The end of the first loop was all paved road and mostly down hill, prefect for recovery. I checked into start/finish then over to my truck to restock. A spectator came over to see how I was and if I needed anything, he ended up lubing my chain for me. You gotta love the vibe of most of these events, everybody just wants all the racers to do as well as they can, competing against one another seems to be an afterthought. A few minutes later I was out for the second and last loop. This was the same as last year so I knew what I was getting into. On this loop I was by myself for the most part, very different from the first loop. For the first 55 miles of the race I was never alone, weird.
In the end I placed third in the open class, just minutes away from second but a ways back from first. The hard tail performed great. It was a good choice for this terrain. I might have wanted to switch to my Song for the second loop for a more comfy ride, but it was only 20+ miles so no big deal. A great day was had in the saddle.

The drive home was relaxing and scenic. Nothing aides recovery like what I should have been drinking early in the race and so grocery store coffee.

Finn's up, gotta run!

Ride on!


Chester Gillmore said...

Sounds like quite an adventure!
Keep it up dude!
Is finn talking yet?

Luke said...

way to hang in there bro!! gonna miss ya this weekend! only doing 8...i'll keep an eye for ya!