Bringing home the hardware.
“My legs fee like wound up springs, I feel great.”
That’s what I said to Amelia before my race this past Sunday. It was true, I had some great days training in the past couple weeks, and minus being a little tired (what else is new?) I felt like I could at least achieve a middle-of-the-pack finish and maybe break into the top 10 in my age group. Things went a little better than expected.
Race #2 of the Wisconsin Off-Road Series was the Lake Geneva Treadfest. 4.2 mile loop of fantastic singletrack, short power climbs spread throughout, one massive climb in the beginning of each lap and a tricky rock garden that almost claimed the soul of at least one rider. >>That’s me yelling RIDER RIDER RIDER, GO GEHLING GO GEHLING GO!<< Cloudy, cool, great conditions for a hard MTB race.
For whatever reason, everything just clicked. My start wasn’t the greatest, but I knew something was different when I was picking people off on the very first set of climbs and realized that there were only … 10 or so riders ahead of me in our wave. I still felt good though. Smooth in the singletrack, smiling through the rock garden, and bombing down descents with such disregard, it would cause my mom to look away in fear. The second lap started … and I still felt great. So I kept my pace up, and picked off another rider or two. I had been chasing down a rider ahead of me for a bit of the first lap, passed him on the first climb only to be passed back on the second climb in the beginning of the lap. The singletrack was coming up so I knew I had to do something — I shifted up and redlined myself to get past him and put on a gap before the singletrack. I could see a fellow UW rider ahead of me and BAM. I had my carrot.
Lap 2 ended, and I still felt great. I had hit a large stick at some point so my shifting had just started going wonky near the middle of the cassette. Oops. Lost time trying to fix that while on the bike, but still kept the pace up. The end of the 2nd lap had me within 30 seconds of my first laptime, so I kept myself going. I saw my heart-rate drop below 170, so I knew I had to go faster. “Ride like the wind” someone told me earlier in the day – well I couldn’t let ’em down!
The miles ticking away, things were getting close. I started passing lapped riders, something that I can’t ever remember really doing. A couple of people from the wave before me went through (only 4) but no one in my age group. With about a mile to go one of them said there was a guy chasing hard. It turned out to be the guy who I passed on the hill before the singletrack, he was chasing me down ever since that move I made.
I was able to hold him off by 30 seconds at the finish. Brent (my fellow UW rider) had finished 50 seconds ahead of me. When I got there there I only saw like a half dozen people at the finish. What had just happened?
Everything came together it would seem. Nutrition during the race, training before the race, the course, the bike … everything aligned perfectly for that hour and 17 minutes that I was out there. I finished 23rd overall out of 220+ people. I finished 4th in my age group. At this race, I had ended my WORS medal drought that I have had since my final race at Sheboygan during my Citizen year in 2001. That was only for 5th place.
The podium is a pretty sweet place to be. I haven’t seen it in a long time. Things are looking good so far this year. My Garmin 305 w/GPS and other goodies is giving me tons of data to go through and evaluate … it’s even giving me the motivation to ride even more. The two pics I posted above are from the race.
Red = Above 174bpm. Good times.
Fun stats for the day:
Race length: 12.6 miles
Race time: 1′ 17″ 56 seconds
Average HR: 176bpm
Number of crashes: 1 (ow, my shin.)
Number of riders in age group: 23
Number of years w/o the podium in WORS: 7
It’s good to be back.
First race of the WEMS series is on Sat. 6 hours of solo racing. I cannot wait!