2013 Mellow Johnny’s Classic

Cold and Clear

Cold and Clear

After Waco, I was feeling particularly disheartened. Coupled with my lack of time for training and my cardio being off, I was feeling quite disgruntled about my overall season. It even came to a head this week when I told my wife that I might make Mellow Johnny’s my last race of the season.

I did get back to my interval training this week, and didn’t have any issues with my heart rate and cardio, that was encouraging. However, what was discouraging is that I could see in my numbers that my effort/power/results were off, basically backtracking to my levels prior to Rocky Hill. The good news was that I felt good enough to train again.

With the gorgeous weather, I did opt for doing my intervals riding loops at the local park instead of road riding. Road riding just sucks so bad… Maybe I’m doing it wrong!

With the race being on Saturday, I cut my Thursday intervals in half and just did about an hour of riding. With how the season has been going so far, I wanted to be well rested and feeling good for Mellow Johnny’s.

One thing that has been a bonus, with my suppressed expectations, I have had much less anxiety about the upcoming race. This has made it easier to sleep at night instead of going over the course in my head as I lay there in bed.

I awoke Saturday morning right on cue at 6AM. Let the dogs out and got ready to head out. I had packed and loaded everything the night before so it was a leisurely morning eating and getting final things in order.

It was chilly first thing in the morning. It was 38 degrees when I left the house and also read 38 when I reached Flat Creek Crossing. I found a good spot to park and began my race prep.

2013 Mellow Johnny's Classic

With the chill, it was hard to know what to wear. I opted for a long sleeve base layer, and tights under my bibs and jersey. Even with a vest and jacket on during warm ups, the wind was cutting to the core to chill me. After warming up and working up a little sweat, I dumped the vest and jacket. Of course the chill really set in once the cold wind was able to hit me while being lightly damp with sweat.

At 20 mins prior to start I downed a stinger and some water and headed for the staging area.

We were informed that there would be 4 minute staggers between groups. This was excellent news as the shorter staggers had resulted in traffic jams right off the bat.

They did the call ups according to registration order. I fully expected them to do a secondary call up of the top 10 in the series, but they didn’t. This didn’t hurt me as I had registered really early, but some of the top ranked riders ended up getting stuck quite a ways towards the rear of the pack.

We lined up and the 3 minute call was given. Man, those minutes right before start are the longest ever! The final 15 seconds was called and I tightened up, poised for a strong start.

The gun went off and the 40+ group of riders were off! I settled into the 3rd place, right where I wanted to be. We headed up the doubletrack towards the first bit of singletrack. There’s a little incline on the way up, but I felt fine through it. I did encounter a huge wash out in the doubletrack that took me a little by surprise, but I was able to lift and ride through it with little more than surprise.

As we neared the first singletrack, John B., the #1 guy in the series, came around. It didn’t take him long to sort through the crowd to get to the front. He darted into the singletrack just in front of me, so I was in 4th heading in. The singletrack was uneventful, but my legs were fussing a little more than I would have liked them to. Other than that, I felt good and pedaled on, but didn’t overly push hard.

As we came out of the singletrack and into the power line doubletrack downhill, Kirby W. (#3 guy in series) came around me. I urged him on to catch up with John as we smoked down the downhill and through the last bit of doubletrack before the real singletrack begins.

I entered the main singletrack in 5th place, and feeling good. My muscles were starting to warm up again after cooling a bit before the start. I was feeling good, but I could tell that I was less than I could be strength wise. It wasn’t long before I heard Steve C. (#2 guy in series) on my rear. I gave him the go ahead when the singletrack opened a little and he zoomed ahead, looking for the leaders.

A little more singletrack fun, then the doubletrack downhill, which leads to the Strava Challenge uphill segment. Right before the downhill, David C. (#4 guy in standings) came around and charged ahead. I was now sitting in 7th place and I figured that this would likely be the area I would be in for the rest of the race.

Up until this point I had been following on David O’s wheel since the start. He was holding a good pace for me, so we hung together for a while.

I suffered up through the loose and steep Strava climb, and in the process lost 2 more positions. After the crest of the hill, I was now in 9th place.

The good news is that as far as I’m concerned, the worst is behind me. We’re now about 3 miles into the course and the rest of the trail that lay ahead played well to my strengths, with a fair bit of loose, non-trivial downhill, and short punchy climbs.

I hung with David O. through the next downhill and across the first creek crossing. We had begun to pass the back markers of the prior race group, but they were good about passing for the most part, except for one guy who just ignored 3 calls for ‘RIDER UP’ while he was dismounted and pushing his bike up a climb. At the last minute he moved over, but it was too late and I was forced to dismount as well.

I passed David O. at the top of the rocky climb after the first crossing and I didn’t see him the rest of the race. It was here that I was starting to hit my stride and feeling like I was riding at a good pace for me.

It was quiet for a while and I didn’t see many folks. I didn’t see anyone from my group and only a few stragglers from the earlier groups.

At one point Humberto V. did catch up to me and he rode my wheel for a while. Of course, he ended up passing me on a longer climb, but I think he may have been burning matches as I was able to quickly overtake him again, on one of the final punchy climbs no less.

Towards the end of the course I was feeling good and knew the end was close. I felt that I was around 6th place, but I wasn’t sure due to not knowing a couple of folks that I either passed or was passed by and not knowing if they were in my group or one of the bad ass 50-99 riders.

I finished strong, hooting and hollering all the way. I even had a few matches to burn towards the end, which I proceeded to light up and throw into the wind, even able to pull off a strong sprint up to the finish line.

Once the results were posted, I see that I’m listed in 8th place. That’s about the area I expected to finish, but I had hoped that I was a position or two higher. 8th it is!

Cat 3 40-49 Podium The Usual Suspects

Cat 3 40-49 Podium
The Usual Suspects

The good news is that I felt great through the race. Upon reviewing Strava, I see that I only posted up a couple of PR’s. The last time I rode Flat Creek Crossing back in November, I had quite a few faster segments and overall lap time (even making concession for the slightly longer lap for this year). Fortunately it wasn’t too much slower than my November times, and I think with a couple of good weeks of training that I’ll be putting up better numbers.

With this finish I moved into #10 in the overall standings, but that’s with only 3 races counting and several in the top 10 have 4 races counting. Looking at the overalls, I figure in my current form that I’m falling into around 5th place overall. That’s not bad, but it’s not the top 3 that I had put as my 2013 goal! Top 3 is pretty much out of reach and those guys are just beasts. The next actual battle is for positions 4-7/8. Assuming the 1-3 guys keep going to races, I’d expect they have it pretty well locked up. I’m going to have to start performing better if I expect to get 5th or higher, so I better step it up!

So that last paragraph makes it sound like I haven’t thrown in the towel after all. And truth be told, no, I haven’t yet and I hope I don’t have to. The only reasons I would is if I continue to only be able to train for 3 hours per week and keep missing races that are important to me. For example, I may have to miss Pace Bend, which REALLY sucks. It’s not 100% yet, but not looking good right now.

Anyway, I’ll get a video together of the Mellow Johnny’s race, although it’s not going to be as good as I would like. When I dismounted and passed David O. on the climb after the crossing, I hit my GoPro so for the rest of the race it was pointed at my knees… feck! I’ll still put something together and will be sure to post it up here, as well as update this post if/when I find some pics from the race.

UPDATE: You can find the video here: Mellow Johnny’s Classic 2013 Video.

Race Day Recap:
Weigh In: 162 lbs
Bike weight: 26.6 lbs
Nutrition: 2 servings oatmeal, 1 cup coffee, 1 honey stinger 30 mins before race, 1/2 water bottle during race
Weather: Chilly and clear, 51 degrees
Dress: Long sleeve base layer, long tights under bibs, short sleeve jersey, a little warm after 1/2 through race
RPE: A little sluggish off the start, felt strong throughout

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.


  1. David Cervera says:

    That’s an excellent race recap Cooper!!! I enjoyed the read, thanks!! Keep pushing, don’t even throw in the towel, the season is just beginning.

    My favorite quote I like to live and ride by…
    “Pain is temporary, quitting last forever!” – Lance Armstrong

    • The throw in the towel has nothing to do with pain or desire or concerns with performance, it is actually firmly planted in the time category. I have a really hard time getting more than 4 hours of saddle time in a week and I really want to be getting in at least 6 hours per week. I’m holding on for now, and we’ll see if I’m able to organize enough training time to get to where I want to be.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      • David Cervera says:

        Yeah I didn’t mean for the quote as referring to throwing in the towel. I just like to always say it about my riding in all aspects.

        But I hear ya on trying to make time for training, it’s tough with a job and family.

        Actually that’s why I’m still in cat 3, LOL!! I just don’t have the time to train to be a cat 2 racer. One lap is all the time I have. And I’m beat after a cat 3 lap!!! Heck I was called a sandbagger today. LOL!!
        Good Luck!! See ya at the races!! πŸ™‚

  2. Dude, I think you are a total badass 8th place out of 44 is fantastic man, just keep riding and loving the ride.

    Love the videos, love the recap. Hope I get to ride with you at some point!

    • Thanks! Yeah, always loving the ride no matter if I stink it up or not =) Do you think you’ll make any of the Dallas area races? Big Cedar or Solovaca?

      • Big Cedar I unfortunately won’t. I have a school reunion that day and I was the class president and so can’t really miss it.

        Solavaca is a hopefully. I’m dying to get back to some racing, I’ve just been swamped with my recent job change. Let’s cross our fingers and hopefully I will make it out there. πŸ™‚

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