El Deguello

One of the most technical and challenging trails in Central Texas, if not all of Texas, is City Park, also known as Emma Long Metropolitan Park.  This park has long been a home to motocross and mountain biking and was the location of one of the very first mountain bike races in Texas.  That race was called El Deguello.

Bring your own engine and GTFOOMW!

Cycle Progression decided to bring the race back.  It has been many years since there was a full length XC race at City Park.  El Deguello was announced only a few short weeks ago.

Unfortunately, the race falls on the same weekend as the Enchilada Buffet.  EB on Saturday, El Deguello on Sunday.  You would have to be a real beast to be able to do the EB one day and follow it up with a race at City Park the next!

As such, early on I had decided to pass on El Deguello and ride the EB.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints and other complexities, it was beginning to look like I would not be able to ride in the EB.  Not only was I unable to put in any long training rides, or familiarity rides at Thumper, but the Saturday of EB was turning out to be a very bad time, neigh impossible time, for me to be out riding all day.  Daddy, husband, and familial duties were just not going to allow me to take a day off to ride my bike all day on that particular Saturday.

So, my second option became the first option.

Which, upon further thinking, was a pretty good option after all!

First of all, with EB being on Saturday and the late notice and minor promoting of El Deguello, the Cat 3 field was sure to be light.  The planned course was also fairly short at a scant 5 miles long.  Couple that with the fact that technical decents are one of my strong points, and I am quite familiar with City Park, and I might just have the cards stacked in my favor for a strong finish, if not a possible outright victory!

Fun lil drop

Fun lil drop

So I committed to El Deguello and planned to put all I had into it.  This would be my chance to claim my first podium finish and I was very excited with the prospect.

Leading up to El Deguello, I had been doing the Time Crunched Training Program, which calls for lots of intervals.  Perfect training for City Park.  Additionally I had also raced the prior two weeks and was getting my race day routine in order and knew what to expect.

The night before the race was nearly impossible for me to sleep.  I was anxious and excited.  I kept visualizing myself placing, no.. winning!

I got up bright and early on Sunday, giving me ample time to have breakfast and get out to the course to warm up.  I have come to realize that to get properly warmed up requires anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes of riding.

I to go City Park, checked in and get all set.  I then proceeded to ride the trail a little to warm up.  I’m glad I did as I found out that they had cut out the first upper loop of the trail.  This cuts out some technical features, and also shortens the course by about a half mile.

It wasn’t long before it was time to stage for the start.  The field sizes were larger than I expected, with the Cat 3 field looking to be around 10 riders.

The very start of the trail has a decent little ledge climb, depending on which line you take.  I knew I did not want to get caught in a pile up in this area, and I knew I could clean my favored line so I decided early on that I wanted the hole shot.

When the whistle blew, I mashed, hard and fast.  The extent of which anyone in my field was within my peripherial vision was all of 10 seconds, at which point I assumed the lead to guarantee my hole shot.  Interestingly enough, this would be the only time I would see other riders of my category for the entirety of the race.

Leading the pack, I won my choice of line and didn’t have to deal with anyone clogging the way.  I cleaned my line and sped off.  I could tell that other riders had went for other lines, but nobody was anywhere to be seen.  I suspected I likely had several seconds on the next closest rider immediately after hitting the singletrack!

Further to my benefit is that after a smallish climb, there is a nice long line of decently technical descent.  Technical enough in fact that the race promoters had suggested that most people walk this section.  Not me though, this is my strong point and I needed to capitalize on it.  I zoomed down the descent and hit the following fast and flowy singletrack with a vengeance.

My legs felt strong and I was in the zone.  I was making great time and clearing the climbs.  As I approached the bench climb I could see a rider ahead of me.  I was about to pass a Cat 2 racer!

Bench climb is rough when you’re not hammering the course at race pace.  At race pace, I still nearly cleared the climb, but had to dismount towards the top.  I made my way to the top and loaded back up to blast the descent.

It wasn’t long after that I saw another Cat 2 racer.  This time it was one of the Cat 2 ladies.  At one particular ledge area, she went high, which allowed me an easy pass on the low side.  I sped on forward.

It wasn’t much farther up that I met up with Christie (sp?), another Cat 2 rider.  She commented on how did I catch her so quickly, but I was too out of breath to let her know that the Cat 3’s only started 1 minute behind the Cat 2’s and that I had been riding well thus far.

This was at the switchback to the right to the upper loop.  I continued riding hard and fast.

Up to this point I hadn’t dared risk taking a drink from my bottle, but I was feeling dry mouth so I reached for the bottle and tried to sneak a quick drink in.  Unfortunately, it was here that there is a little drop to loose with a cut back to the left.  I tried to one hand it, but no dice and I took a fall.

Fortunately it was an easy fall and I was able to hop right back up and continue on.  No injury and nothing broken on the bike, whew!

For the next while the ride was fairly uneventful.  I was about halfway through the course and I was a little worried that I might be burning too hot and would blow up before I could finish so I actually pulled back just a tad.  I had no idea how far behind the rest of the Cat 3 field was but I knew I hadn’t seen anyone since the starting line.

Just because I pulled back a little doesn’t mean I really relaxed.  I continued to pedal hard and had a strong race.  As I neared the finish, I was extremely excited and felt a surge of strength at what appeared to be an imminent victory.  As I sped towards the finish line, I was stoked to see one of my riding buddies as well as my wife and kids waiting for me at the line.

I finished the race and felt great.  My time was around 36:30 or so, with the next rider in Cat 3 coming through about 2 minutes later.  It felt really good to chalk up a win, particularly at City Park!


About TC

Long time mountain biker, recent mountain bike racer. Borderline unhealthy obsession with mountain biking, constantly drawn to hit the dirt and share my experiences.

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