Wow, starting another blog entry and my first thought was to mention that my job is killing my blogging career lately. Thank god cross season is just around the corner, two race reports a week will keep me focused on what's important, blogging at work! Like right now, for example, I would totally get fired for this except it's 10 PM. Oh yeah, I'm stickin it to the man all right.
So this weekend we got some tropical storm remnants on Saturday, some wicked downpours here and there, and next thing I know certain unnamed potential carpoolers are whining to me on the gmail about not wanting to ride a mudfest. I protested that the brunt of the rain was going north of Boston, and Wompy doesn't really get that muddy anyway (how can a rock turn into mud? it can't!), but it didn't work, some people can actually walk away from a chance to race bikes and not feel bad about it. Weird. Even Boston's fastest woman was trying to kill my buzz as we watched the solid wall of rain from her porch, but it didn't matter because after 24 hours of NON TECHNICAL BS, er, Grand Targhee, I was stoked to fight a true eastern course for several hours. I switch my carpool over to Thom the indefatigable marathoner and remained pumped.
Got down there early and I was right, it was moist and slippery but not really muddy. Sure, enough mud puddles in 25 miles to get you dirty but not enough to ruin the race or your shifting.
On the start line my new buddy Sean D and I had a reverse psychology contest, it went like this:
Sean: Oh man, I hate Wompy, I live like right next door but I never ride this place, I'm so unmotivated, man, you're gonna kill me
Me: Oh come on, you were just telling me how you tapered off your training after overdoing it last month, man you're probably peaking now, ah you're gonna kill me
I guess he won, I didn't really have time to lay out my entire argument about why he was probably in good form.
For some reason the 20+ and 30+ experts weren't there even though every other class was huge (90 beginners?!), so the put us all in with the semi-pros and Seamus Powell, fastest junior evar, and believe it or not things started out kind of fast. It was flat fire road, too, so it was a big-ring drafting kind of start, and when it stretched out you were compelled to try to stay on the wheel for that mild drafting benefit even though you had 2.5 hours to go. Because you're stupid.
The extra fun part was blowing through sizeable puddles at 20 mph on someone's wheel, I'd hear the splashing long before seeing the puddle and then all of the sudden the bottom would drop out and there was only time to try to stay loose and hope there weren't any big rocks hiding in the water. After a mile of this my glasses were useless and my legs were starting to follow them, so I pulled the ripcord and let Tim D's wheel go. It turned out to be a good call since he rode with the semi-pros the whole race and eventually beat all but two of them.
The good news was that everyone else from 20-29 was behind me, most of all Sean who's only 3 points back in the series. Things spread out and I got down to business, hmm, only 24 miles to go!
Obviously the guys behind me are going to stay there, if you can beat someone for a dirt mile then you can beat them for a rocky 25, right? So I rode this rock garden like crap, then I rode this climb like crap, then Sean says from behind me "I thought you were gone" and I was like, how the hell did that happen??
The trail stayed super technical on the first climb up Prospect Hill but I started to remember how to ride at Wompatuck, something about knowing when to hammer and knowing when to focus on being smooth I think... being smooth is actually just about being lazy in the legs and sharp in the head so I kept thinking "2.5 hours to ride" and trying innovative techniques like "shift out of the big ring on uphill rock gardens...you moron."
Sean sealed the reverse psychology victory by cheering for me as I cleaned another climb up the side of Prospect Hill, man, that's brutal, I couldn't even muster a "no, YOU'RE DOING QUITE WELL, I SAY" in return... a crushing defeat.
After that I pulled away a bit, far enough he could no longer compliment me but close enough I could still see him on the straights. There were a few smooth(er) miles so we got to feed #1 pretty fast, where some little kid tried to give me a feed. Unfortunately he hadn't been coached on holding the cup from the top, or moving his arm with me, so I basically smacked the cup out of his hand while spilling water all over him. That'll dampen your enthusiasm for helping out, huh buddy? Ha-ha.
Now that I was off in no-mans land it was time to start playing stupid head games -- I bottomed pretty hard in a mudhole, OH NO IS IT FLAT?
Take a turn, man did my back end squish a little too much? OH NO IT'S MAYBE FLAT! Another turn man I think it's squishy. Stop to check and it hasn't lost any air, I'm just an idiot riding a dualie.
Soon after that I did my good samaritan act of the day, stopped to yell at a marathon rider (they started 30 mins ahead) who was trying to head down the wrong trail. Another 20 seconds lost, oh no!
Then a while later I came off some slow techy trail onto a pavement section and it was like I could feel my bike slow down. Jeeeeez man, did I torque the back wheel out of the dropout and are my discs dragging like crazy? (This happens pretty often, because I use a coat hanger for a skewer, not because I'm a beastly strong dude)
Stop to check. Not dragging at all. My legs must not hurt enough if my brain has energy to come up with such nonsense.
I went by the 15 mile marker and thought to myself, "wow, this is going by pretty fast! Cool!" Too bad miles 16-20 were some of the techiest on the course. Half an hour later I was feeling sick to my stomach, feeling the bonk coming on, and feeling busted wrists thanks to getting stood up and thrown down by a hidden rock on a corner. Suddenly the race couldn't end soon enough.
Against my stomach's desires I ate another gel -- note to self, two bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches are a STUPID breakfast -- and tried to hang onto it as the mile markers came slower and slower. My delusions of catching Tim D as he "blew up" were dashed as I saw him come back by the other way on a two-way section drafting John Foley... yeah that's a nice seven minute lead, right there.
Back through the two-way section I was looking everywhere for Sean, hoping to see that I had a seven minute cushion for 2nd and I could cruise in... but he was nowhere to be found so I convinced myself he might only be a minute or so back, better hammer in clumsily to seal the deal. And clumsily hammer I did!
Turned out the gap was way bigger than a minute so the hammering was pointless, well, mostly pointless -- first thing I did when the marathon results came out was check teammate Thom's time... and yeah, he rode two laps, yeah he only has one gear, yeah he had to stop mid race and repair his drivetrain with a rock like the neaderthal he is.... but my lap was faster than his average lap time by a scant 30 seconds. Go me.
Sean hung onto 3rd so I only strengthened my grip on 2nd place by five points, guess it's time to take life seriously for a week (I think that means "rest more") and try to close it out at Domnarski Farm on Saturday. Then I'll be hitting the cross bike just like the rest of you. See you next week.
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