Rocky Hill Roundup 2012

The last 2 weeks have been pretty much 2 weeks of no riding.  Between all of the rain and my primary bike being in the shop due to a non-functional free hub, my riding time has been next to nil.  I did finally get my bike back on Thursday, albeit without a rear wheel.  Fortunately I had just noticed someone selling a wheelset matching my needs on craigslist for a scant $125, which I jumped on.  I can always resell this wheelset once Easton has sent my repaired wheel back.

So anyway, between no riding and the wife expecting to have a very busy weekend, I had pretty much written off racing at the final TMBRA Spring Series race at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville.  Then, of course, on Saturday I realize that Sunday is actually not going to be as busy as first expected and I could possibly race… ooops!

So of course, I still don’t commit to racing.  I go to bed around midnight Saturday, falling asleep sometime after 1AM.

The Boy wakes me up at 6:15.  I head off to tend to him and contemplate if I want to try to get away to race or settle for a ride at Pace Bend.  I feed The Boy and by 7AM decide that, yes, I do want to race!

The only problem is that I haven’t prepared anything.  I haven’t eaten, my gear isn’t loaded, my bike is filthy and not loaded and the race starts in less than 2 hours.  I take The Boy and hand him off to my seemingly disappointed wife, since that now meant she had to roll out of bed.

I stuff all of my gear in a bag, get my water, snacks, etc and toss it in the truck.  I go to load the bike and see that my front tire is flat.  Not a huge issue really except I run tubeless.  Which means I’ll either have to stuff my only tube into the front tire, or refresh the sealant.  I decide to refresh the sealant.  15 minutes later the tire is aired and holding and I’m ready to go.  It is now 7:30 and registration closes at 8:30.

Fortunately the drive from Austin to Smithville at 7:30AM on a Sunday morning is pretty light as far as traffic goes.  Although I did notice that there was more traffic than I expected to see.   I make it out to Rocky Hill Ranch around 8:20 and sit in the line to enter the ranch for about 10 minutes.

 

Finally unload the bike, get my gear on, rush up to registration.  10 minutes later I’m registered and ready to go.  Great!  Now I have a whopping 10 minutes to warm up before the lineup for the race start.  Now, I will say, I warm up noticeably slower than I used to in my younger years.  It typically takes me a good 30 minutes of steady pace to get good and warmed up.  That would have been ideal, but no, I have to settle for a short jaunt up the hill and back as my warmup.

I line up in the race, called up towards the end of the group, so of course I’m at the end of the pack.  I think next year that is one thing I’ll want to see about doing better, is getting pre-registered so I can get called up closer to the front.  Even though I’m no speed demon, getting stuck in the rear when I’m fresh kinda sucks!

The whistle goes off and the race is on!  I know there’s a pretty nasty climb ahead of me for my warm up.  I tell myself that I am going to keep a slower pace to make sure I don’t completely blow up as I did at both Mellow Johnny’s and Pace Bend.  The climb up was pretty tough, particularly since I wasn’t even warmed up.  I got to use the first 2 miles of the race as my warm up, which just happens to coincide with the toughest climbing portion of the race.

There were a couple of pile ups which further slowed me down, and then I took a couple of falls.  One was as I was approaching a climb, the 2 riders in front of me came to a complete stop.  I did not get stopped in time and actually hit tire to tire to the guy in front of me, which dumped me over.  Besides getting tossed to the ground, now I have a nice little hill that I am now forced to run/push to the top of.

About 5 minutes later, I’m passing through a particularly narrow pair of trees and my right handlebar catches the tree pretty good.  It turns my wheel hard right, right towards an oncoming tree.  Again, I am dumped on my ass, in a little worse fall than the earlier one.  Again, I’m not even 15 minutes into the race yet and I’ve been dumped twice, on a nasty uphill climbing segment, and I’m not even warmed up.

Adrenaline coursed after the 2nd crash, which gave a nice boost, but the crash after the adrenaline wore off pretty much sucked as it was right at the beginning to the lead up to Fat Chuck’s Demise.  Fat Chuck’s Demise is a double track climb up loose golfball sized rocks that climbs about 150ft over 1.5 miles.  By the time I reach the top of FCD, I’m completely winded.  I actually stopped for probably 20 seconds to catch my breath as I didn’t want to perpetuate a complete blow up over the rest of the race.

The good news is that after you crest Fat Chuck’s Demise, it’s a nice rolling ride, which was a lot of fun.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was pretty much at the complete rear of the pack.  I must have been as I passed 8 or so people through the rest of the race.  Given my final position of 34th, I was really close to last, if not in fact DFL.

At any rate, after I was warmed up, I actually felt like I had a really good race.  My heart rate stayed pegged the entire race with an average heart rate of 178.  Given my max heart rate of 185, that’s pretty pegged in my book.  While I felt good, I still hated not having the gas to push harder in those moments where I knew I wanted to.  I would have loved to really hammer some of the downhills, but I didn’t feel like I had the strength to do it safely.

In the end it was a fun race and I’m glad I made it out.  I met a few more nice folks that I look forward to getting to know as well as having another learning experience on pacing myself.   Of course I was also reminded how committing is so important and being prepared.

Lessons learned or reminded:

  1. Get a full nights rest.  I only got 5 hours of sleep and I could tell.
  2. Eat right the morning of.  A bowl of oatmeal is probably not ideal!
  3. Be prepared!  Not expecting to race, my bike was filthy, un-lubed and un-maintained.
  4. Warm up!  30 minutes before call up time!
  5. COMMIT COMMIT COMMIT!  Get buy in from the wife so there are no possible conflicts and no cop outs!


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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