Monday, June 11, 2012

Pat's Peak, Root 66 MTB Race Series

Never had raced Pat's Peak.  Some races have always been too far me for a one day drive.  Usually anything over a two hour drive each way in one day, is out of my tolerance.  Also, I am afraid that a mind numbing two plus hour drive home after a really hard race is going to lead me to just passing out at the wheel.  And on the way home from Pat's Peak, there was as little of that: at one point I had the air conditioning blasting, the Killers blaring, and sticking my head out the window! Not cause I was tired but mostly out of boredom!

contemplating life before the start...
I was initially going to race the 6 hours on Saturday but after taking a little OTB on Thursday, my body signaled it would be a really bad idea to be on the bike for that long.  Made the mature decision to listen to it and just race the XC race on Sunday instead.  In hind sight, I am glad I did!

Someone had described the course to me as serious climbing but not very technical.  Well 1/2 of that description was right.  When I arrived I heard they had added some new sections, and someone who had just finished the cat 2 race described it as a "real mountain bikers course".

Mike, who had missed his start time had decided to race the cat 1 w/ me. We lined up and it was hot! They changed the course lap requirements from four to three.  "Tough course with long lap times" was the reason given.  How tough could it be?  That unanswered question is why I hate going into races blind!

The course started right away with a fire road climb (kinda like Mt Snow used to have); went around a pond (like Mt Snow used to have though granted in a different location); crossed the mountain over some slick rooty and rocky tricky single track (kinda like Mt.  Snow); dropped back towards the base of the mountain on a crazy fast choppy fire road (Mt Snow...), and then started the climb to the top in earnest (hmmm...Mt.  Snow anyone?).  There was even a hike a bike section as it got too steep and slick to ride (Mount sn....). The climb was long and twisty and at times technical, and just when you thought it was done, it would go again. It also was quite muddy and slick in certain areas from the water running down the mountain.  And the 1/2 of the course description that was missing, was really missing!  It was quite technical in some spots.  Most of it ride-able, but needing some careful line choosing.  Once at the top, there was some fun twisty single track, a couple of fun features, and then it bombed down to the base (just like...).  Did I mention the course really reminded me of the old Mt Snow course?  And was tough!

Mike on his little wheels before getting lost
On the first lap, due to the heat, I elected to start somewhat slower than usual.  I realized quickly this was a good move as the climbing was going on for much longer than anticipated.  I was also a little worried about my shoulder and since I wanted to make sure I did not crash, I elected to walk some of the techy parts of the course on the first lap.  My legs also felt pretty heavy during the first lap and I did not feel like I had my normal climbing power.  So I didn't push too hard and played it safe for the second lap as well.   My goal was to keep my legs fresh-ish for the last lap and then go for it.  I had a couple of guys in front I kept w/in reaching distance (though lost some ground when I missed a turn), but did not try to catch up to them.  Since I was playing it safe on the downhill, I did again loose significant ground on them once the second lap was done.

I brought up the pace and intensity on the third lap and soon could see "those" guys in front again and that I was gaining on them.  By the time we had reached the top, I had passed two of them w/ a certain "authority" (you know, like when you pass someone in such a way to let them know there is no way they are going to be able to keep your pace or catch back up, so please don't try!)  Since I did not want to get caught, I rode all the tricky sections and just let it rip on the downhill section. I knew I had not pushed it hard enough on the climbs as I was still feeling pretty snappy and fresh on the way down.  This however did allow to pass two more guys.  One guy did manage to pass me back right at the bottom but I was able to pass him again (w/ "authority") on the last little climb before the finish area.

My placement ended up being pretty dismal (but I had a sh*t load of fun racing it!).  I realize in looking at the results that I was racing in last place for the first two laps and am glad I passed three people in my group on that last lap (to finish 8 out of 11, + 3 dnf's).  Mike ended up not finishing the race because on his second lap he got off course and ended up in VT somewhere (slight exaggeration!)  Since I had no idea how well my legs were going to hold over the three laps, I played it way to safe on the second lap.  I ended up not being that tired after the race and today, post race day, I am not even really sore.  I think part of my need to play it safe was motivated by having hit the wall way too early and hard at the Weeping Willow race three weeks ago. So I really overcompensated here, and played it way to safe.   I do need to need keep on working on developing a good sense of what my overall sustainable maximum effort is.  I think I have it down for flat courses but not for hilly courses. And I only have two weeks to figure that out since we line up for the world cup then...


  1. Not quite as easy as that going up hill. Muscle fatigue/cramping etc... on hills are much harder to figure out. Avg HR for the race was 189 w/ a max of 205 on the last climb.