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Monday, April 23, 2007

NVDC race report

Hell of a nice day for racing yesterday up in Angwin. Despite it pouring buckets in the early morning hours in Santa Cruz. It was sprinkling on us as we loaded up the bikes onto Brent's car. I grabbed an extra rain slicker in case someone was unfortunate enough to arrive without one. So geared up for the worse we hit the road. As we headed over Hwy17 we were met with on and off rain, pretty much what we had expected.

Later as we rolled through San Ramon and Danville we were met with a site we weren't expecting at all. SUN! Holy shit this might not be the soggy, wet, death march I had been expecting. The closer we got to the race the clearer the skies became. This was a welcome turn of events.

Registration went off without a hitch. Glad I pre-registered. Sign a waiver, grab a t-shirt, and I am set. Just have to wait around for an hour and a half for my race to start. I get my stuff ready. Cleaned out excess baggage from the camelback. I had 4 cliff bars tucked away in that thing. I could have been lost in the woods for days and been alright. Got that out of the way. Then I lay back and took a little nap. All the racer boys are doing laps, pre-riding the first climb, and riding their trainers. In my traditional style throw a leg over the bike with about 20min to start time. A couple of hot laps around the lot, a quick stretch out, and into the lineup.

I am lined up dead center front row for the start. How the fuck I ended up there I am not sure, but I am not going to be there for long. Mike is on my left and Sean (the race winner) is on my right. The rope drops and we are off. I am out of my saddle and doing a decent sprint. To my surprise Mike actually falls back and for the first 50 yards I take him to the cleaners. He quickly regains sanity and clings onto the lead pack while I try to find a rhythm and not blow up. I keep him and the lead pack in sight up to the hike a bike, but they are gone by the time I get up it. I was in last, but managed to pass one of the guys on the hike a bike. And that is about how the story goes. I thought I had reeled in 1-2 more clydes, but guess I got mixed up with the beginner class. By this time my front tire is packed with mud and my fears are confirmed that it is a much better dry tire. The soupy slop dh corners from the airport are sketchy and on more than a couple of occasions I swore I was going down. I managed to pick up a mud clot in my cassette that was giving a nice skipping sensation, so I took my first stop of the day and cleaned it out with a stick as a few people roll by.

Fast forward to the 3 big rollers. At this point I have been mixed with chicks and Beginner sandbaggers so there is a bit of traffic. I roll into the first and am really bummed that the roll in is much smaller than the hill out. Oh well, clean it and catch 2 of the women that had just handed me my ass back in the fire road climb. I fire into the second drop with authority, launch over some rocks on the way down and then ping and bounce off rocks and roots on the uphill. I pull it, but have no momentum at the top. I hit the last one and call it a day. All clear, one big accomplishment for the day. I am redlined and watch the 5-6 people that I passed slowly ride away from me. The next riser I find that I can't get to the granny gear. So at the top I take my second stop to pull out a tool and adjust the fd. More people pass. Climbing the last couple of steep hills in the mid ring and I have already felt the onset of cramps in my calfs. Shit, this race is kicking my ass and we are only about 30min in.

I saddle back up and keep on plugging. I pass a few people on the downhill singletrack. In the winding uphill singletrack I am still feeling like I could cramp at any time so I back off a bit, I spin it out a bit. Surprisingly I was able to climb well enough this year that I didn't have to hear "on your left" all the way up. I had one guy riding my rear tire for a while. I hopped up a slick log and I heard him behind me. His tire gave the dreaded wet log spin and then I heard him and his bike falling down the hill. I didn't look back, but I sure he was fine. I kept plugging and was in a groove. My legs were back to feeling good and I was even standing and grinding out some of the shorter hills.

At this point I am really waiting for the dh. Where is it? I remember the profile of the course and somewhere along the way I get to descend about 1000'. I get to the section and start flowing it. I pass a few people, roll though the photo-op, and then bounce to the bottom. I guess it was a rest, but it didn't feel like much. I am moving pretty well and pass a few people on the next set of hills we climb. At this point there are a few familliar faces that are moving at about my pace and we stick pretty tight for the rest of the race.

We finally get to the rollers on the back side. They are rutted and sketchy as ever, but atleast they are not muddy. I pick my lines and roll them clean. There are some spectators gathered to watch for carnage. I pick this one line that looks good until you round the corner and realize there is a shrub hanging into it. I am committed, so I duck my head and plow through it. I hear someone behind me eat shit. Must not have committed, or he tried to cross over the rut. Either way I think he took a rest there to recover.

Now things turn away from my gravitational favor and we begin to climb. To my surprise I am on my bike much more than last year. I am climbing hills that I didn't think were possible last time I saw them. I am passing some people who probably didn't know what they were in for. A lot of people are bonking, but I am still feeling alright so I trudge on. I make it about half way up the climb before I start slowing. Then I started to get some light cramping in my quads. Another half mile or so and people start passing me again. I am leaning on the bars, tired, beaten, but not demoralized yet. I stop a couple of times to down the last of my cytomax. No major breaks though. By my watch there is a possibility that I could be back by around 2:30. I know, in my dreams. But it drives me on.

Up the climb we march. Then finally we get to ride again. My legs are much heavier than the last time they were on the pedals. I am on the verge of becoming one giant knotted cramp, so I drop a couple of gears and relax. After a few minutes I am as good as it gets, so I get back on it and climb as best I can to get out of the woods. Once I hit the fire road before the airport my quads were starting to cramp, my triceps were shot, and my calfs were bordering on cramping again. Must have gotten a bum batch of sport legs this time, because I don't think they did shit for me. I focus on not cramping, swap my position on the saddle, and keep pedaling. I see a couple of the guys I have been riding with at the airport and real them in. They of course are in a different class so it is irrelevant, but it gives me a reason to pedal harder. I realize this is home stretch, so I pick up the pace as best I can. I ride down the hike a bike with visions of a mud sandwich and OTB experience, but survive. Sprint it in to the finish with no additional excitement. And that's a wrap.

One thing that is great at this race is that so many of the people are great. I had many good short conversations with riders, rode with groups that were really just enjoying the ride, and both gave and received encouragement on tough sections. The grass roots feel of this race is just fantastic. The naked shower conversation with random guy was a bit weird, but I guess he was nice to if you are into that sort of thing.

In the end I pulled out a 2:44 time, a little over 15min faster than last year. I am pretty stoked on that. It put me 13th out of 14 clydes. The trail conditions were slower and muddy, so to have pulled out a good time meant a lot to me. I was 45min back from the leader, ouch. Some asshat fought me for DFL and got it. Guess that was a title that I didn't really want to keep. I would have been 8th out of 16 in the Beginner 19-29. Overall I left feeling very good about the day, my ride, and the course. Much better than the last time around.

The clyde podium:


Curtis working for the podium:




Some other reviews over at MTBR
Link

Results for 2007
Results

1 comment:

BrentCark said...

Doug,
that was an awesome discription of yesterday. I like the description of feeling like one giant knotted cramp. I have to say that all of the clyde podium guys are looking skinny, esspecially the one on the left. That was a truly epic race day! See you on Thurs evening ride.