Holiday Farm Classic Race Report

Dedicated readers may have noticed that my july went kind of badly.
With the big show of Great Glen coming up next weekend, I probably could have used a weekend off. But on the other hand, I didn't want to head to Great Glen with this gnawing "am I totally burned out?" worry following me everywhere. I mean, I'm going to feel like crap by midnight anyway, when the two-man team starts to really kick my ass, but I need to be able to convince myself it's not because I'm a terrible athlete.

So, Holiday Farm it is. I guess the weekend off will have to be the 17th, instead. I raced here last year and had a feel-like-crap start, and then broke my bike two hours (and still not done) later -- but somewhere in between the biological and the mechanical I remembered a pretty fun, mostly singletrack course that might have even suited whatever riding style I have. This year's course was a totally different loop, or series of loops, but had the same flavor as before -- mostly singletrack climbing, mostly singletrack descending, muddy in spots, everything was rideable if you were on top of your game and plenty of things weren't if you were tired. One of the best courses I've raced on, now that I think about it, too bad it had to compete with Fort Rock this year for racers.

We were warned in advance this was going to be a long one, three laps at 45+ minutes a lap. This may have contributed to our very pedestrian start, but I was able to secure DFL nonetheless. We rolled gruppo compatto for five minutes through the field while my heart rate warmed up, it was such a nice reversal from the Mt Snow screw-you start that I actually started to have fun. Even though I was last.

And I stayed in last for a good fifteen minutes. Eventually things started to separate, so I started moving up, but I really wasn't very interested in hammering up to the front with over two hours to go. Tim D and some other guys I didn't know disappeared of the front, which is generally how these things go.

After a half-lap we came back through the start area, which confused me greatly. I caught onto Sean D's wheel and we had a little discussion about what the hell lap we were on and how many guys were ahead of us. In retrospect, this conversation was incorrect on all fronts. Then we hit climb #2 in the lap and I got dropped like a bad habit. So I had a quick "do I suck?" trial in my head.

Evidence for the prosecution: The defendant weighs 145 lbs, at worst, and is getting dropped climbing... yet again. He still has to race two hours, and yet he is already wondering how long he can hold this pace. He is eating a gel out of desperation. Ladies and Gentlemen, these are the actions of a bike racer who sucks. No further evidence is necessary. The prosecution rests.

Judge: Trial adjourned while we go downhill for a bit here. Court will reconvene when we get out of the big ring.

Defense: Wheeeeee! We're catching up again!

Judge: Positive moments in the midst of sucking are inadmissible in "do you suck?" court, sorry.

Prosecution: And now he's getting dropped again on this climb. The defendant sucks.

Defense: Yeah. Pretty much.

I was pretty convinced that I sucked at the pedaling part of bike racing at the top of the third and final climb on the first lap. Sean was gone, and I was slipping hopelessly on roots thanks to my semi-slick rear tire. Good news: it weighs 485 grams! It rolls super-fast on hardpack! Bad News: It doesn't actually work off-road.

Then we headed back downhill and life got fun again. It was a pretty fast, pretty open descent so I kept telling myself, "Sean's probably not pedaling, you better pedal here since you can't climb" which lead to a 34 mph top speed (awesome) and only one trip off the trail into the woods (not awesome). I was able to bring it back onto the trail without stopping, and Sean reappeared ahead of me just as the descent ran out. He yelled something at me through the woods so I yelled back "hey man, wait up!"

And he actually did, as far as I could tell. I caught him a few minutes later and he denied waiting, but I'm pretty sure he did because we immediately had this conversation:

Sean: This is epic!
Me: Yeah, we're not even done a lap!

So he just wanted to tell someone how much fun he was having. And so was I!

Soon after that we did finish a lap. I thought we were going to hang out for a bit longer, but once we went uphill again we got separated. The weird thing was that I was the guy pulling away, so maybe I don't suck? Who knows. Time to ride alone for 1.5 hours, at least the trails are sweet.

46 minutes later I finished up lap two, as the fun-factor was predictably draining away and I was pretty ready to be done. I could tell I was slowing because I was having a hell of a time catching this sport rider in front of me (Sports started behind us, so I thought I was lapping him), but when I finally got there he turned out to be a guy in my class that I had totally lost track of. He claimed the two leaders were "just a bit ahead of him" but that was "total bull," cuz I went wicked haaaahd for another twenty minutes and didn't see anyone. The good news was I dropped him to secure third, the bad news was I starting to cramp up "like no other" and I still had a big climb left.

The fun factor really bottomed out when I started cramping up after the last downhill, all I wanted to do was ride in peace but instead I had to spin gently while trying to stretch parts of my leg I didn't even know how to stretch, and my god, are we done yet?? This stretch was not this long last lap. Finally I hit the last field, so I dropped the hammer purely for the sake of hammer-dropping, which led to pathetically flopping across the finish line while cramping in both legs.

End result, 3rd of 12. I got dusted again by series leader man, and the field was on the small side, but make no mistake, that was so much better than July and now I'm wicked stoked for 24 hours. See you out there.


Anonymous said…
Nice! You're back. I better not race next weekend so I can still say you've never beaten me in an expert race. Whoops! Jamner made me say it!
Colin R said…
You're safe next weekend, I'll be at Great Glen. Plus I hear Hodges is a roadie course anyway.
kevin said…
You bring self deprication to a whole new level.

"Started DFL, sucked, sucked, sucked, passed someone, ended up on the podium. i suck."

You kind of suck at sucking.
Colin R said…
crap, you're right.

I suck at segueing from the part of the race where I was thinking, "wow I suck" to the part where I figured out that certain people were riding too fast on lap 1.
Anonymous said…
It was epic.

Popular posts from this blog

A letter to everyone's parents about Coronavirus

Sam Anderson Cheats at Mountain Bike Racing

Do-It-Yourself March Cycling Blog Post