Rocky Hill Roundup Race Report

RHR-0403-X2

Well, here it is!  The first race of the year was this past weekend and I was hardly able to contain my anxiety.

Training rides for the week were to include a rest day, followed by intervals on Thursday.

For my day off the bike, I actually had a bike fitting scheduled at Bicycle Sport Shop.  I took the rig in and just wanted to have the confirmation and confidence that my current setup was ideal for my riding.  I didn’t really have any specific issues with my ride, and actually I am very comfortable on the bike, even for multi-hour rides.

I was planning to start upgrading some components, and just wanted the confidence that I would be getting the right stuff.

At any rate, the fitting took about 2 hours and we went over various things with my bike including pedaling, position and posture.  Turns out Travis was pretty happy with how I was configured, and we only did a few minor tweaks.  We have a couple of suggestions for later which I am going to explore, but did not want to do anything drastic just a scant 3 days before my first XC race.

Probably the biggest change we did was getting new inserts.  Turns out, according to their measurements, that I have pretty high arches.  Some new insoles that conformed better to my foot really helped keep my foot more stable in the shoe and overall improved my pedaling comfort.  As an added bonus, there was less play in the shoe which has to translate into better pedaling efficiency.

I also found out that my saddle is a little too narrow for my sit bones, but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on a different saddle just yet.  For now, I will be upgrading my handlebar, stem and seatpost.  I’ll look towards saddle next.

I’ve already placed an order for an Enve Sweep carbon fiber handlebar and a new Easton Stem. Todd hooked me up with a Thompson Elite seatpost, but I haven’t put it on just yet.

My plan will be to put on all of those new components after this weekend’s Waco XC Race.

Anyway, my Thursday interval ride went well and felt good.  I did take 1 attempt at the Commons Ford 1 Mile PR, but finished about 7 seconds behind my best time.  I know my current PR was a short all or nothing ride so it doesn’t quite equal this effort.  Anyway, I’ll get a new PR on there soon enough =)

Todd came by on Friday and we went out for an easy spin to keep the legs fresh.

Saturday was the Kids Kup and the SuperD.  I took J out to the Kids Kup where she was super excited to do the Kids Kup.

After the Kids Kup, it was time for the SuperD.  There wasn’t a big entry field, but this is something I felt I could give a good run at for 1st place.  I had already decided that I’d put forth a hard effort, but I little did I know that a 5 minute hard effort would impact my race on Sunday.

After pre-riding the SuperD course and warming up, I felt pretty good with my prospects.  We lined up and the Start was called.  I was immediately in last place as I had mis-geared my starting setup.  Lesson learned there…   I was able to get into 2nd pretty easily, but getting the hole shot was no longer an option.

I followed Alex into the single track and held his wheel.  I knew there was a portion of the course that opened up onto the jeep road and I decided early on that I would make my move when we hit the road.  I was going to attack and attack hard to get the pass.

Unfortunately for me, Alex really powered it up on the jeep road as he was anticipating a possible attack.  This caused me to really have to push hard and likely in the end, this was my undoing.  I made the pass, but it cost me dearly.  While I maintained speed and composure right after the pass, I could feel that twinge my legs and chest that indicated that no matter what I wanted to do, my matches were burnt and I was going to be stalling out.  Sure enough, when we hit the last little climb, I could tell I was done, and rather than be a dick, I moved over and let Alex by uncontested.

Rocky Hill Ranch SuperD

Having lost the race right there, I then took it easy through to the end.  No need to risk a crash on the small jumps at the end of the course.  I rolled across the finish in 2nd place.

RHR-SuperD-Podium

You can see a video of the run and read a little more over here: Rocky Hill Roundup SuperD

It was right about now that I started feeling pretty rough.  I was exhausted, more so than I can ever recall being.  I was faint headed and nauseous and could hardly stop coughing.  I could tell that I had really given my heart and lungs a very strenuous workout.  It would be a solid 90 minutes before I would recover enough to feel normal again.

The rest of the day I took it really easy and tried to go to bed early. I was still very anxious for the XC the next day and was very excited about the coming race.

On Sunday, Little Red woke me up about 5AM. I had planned to be up at 6, but there was no way to go back to sleep at that point. I got up and got everything ready. Had a bowl of oatmeal and some yogurt. A cup of coffee and I was out the door.

I arrived at Rocky Hill Ranch by 7:30AM, in plenty of time for the scheduled 9AM start. Unfortunately it was raining, and had been raining for quite a while. It was sloppy and muddy. Due to this, the race was delayed just a few minutes until 9:15, and the course was diverted around some of the most muddy parts of the trail.

Part of the reroute meant that we would be climbing the jeep road for a longer time period. That didn’t really bode well for me, as sustained climbs of that nature are not my strong point. “No worry”, I told myself, as I still felt that as long as I could keep up with the leaders on the climb that I’d be able to hang in there through the single track.

I did my warmup and lined up on the front line for the race. The GO was called and we were off, albeit a little slower than typical. My feeling is that everyone knew we were in for it on this initial climb and there was no need to charge off hard right off the bat.

I started out in fine condition, sticking in the #3 position for most of the first bit of the climb. Towards the end of the climb however, several others had moved ahead. I wasn’t worried just yet as I felt I would be able to make up time in the singletrack where my bike handling skills would support me.

As we hit the singletrack, it was super sloppy. My wheels were spinning and I was sliding all over the place. I was riding on less aggressive 2.1 width tires, both up front and in back. Maxxis Ignitor up front and Maxxis Crossmark in the back. I would find out later that people running more aggressive tires said they felt strong in the mud and did not have slipping problems that I reported. Duly noted and I’ll have to pick up some tires when courses look to be muddy again in the future.

Even though I wasn’t as fast or as strong in the singletrack as I usually was, others were having issues as well. While I estimate that I hit the singletrack in position 10 or 11, I was able to make my way up as high as #6 before eventually being overtaken in the final 200 yards of the course by 2 racers. Just as in the SuperD the day prior, when it came to the final sprint, I just had zero gas left in the tank and lost out.

I finished the race in 8th place. I am disappointed as I really wanted to be in top 5, if not the top 3. My buddy, Kirby, who I feel I am pretty much on par with, finished 4th, and only 6 seconds out of 2nd! It was a close finish for 2-4. I really feel I should have been in the mix with those guys. They finished about 1:30 ahead of me. Was it due to the mud? Or the SuperD on Sunday? Or is that just where I would be under normal circumstances? It is hard to say…

In the end, it was still very fun. My anxiety really tore me up the week prior to the race and I hope that I can get that under control, particularly the couple of days before the race. I need my sleep!

Race Day Recap:
Weigh In: 161 lbs
Bike weight: 26.6 lbs
Nutrition: 2 servings oatmeal, 1 serving yogurt, 1 cup coffee, 1 honey stinger 30 mins before race, 1/2 water bottle during race
Weather: Wet and muddy, 59 degrees
Dress: Bibs and short sleeve jersey
RPE: Rode hard, but felt sluggish
CTL: 27.1
TSB: -5.2 (steady)

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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