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Saturday morning I headed out to Fontana for the 6th and final race of the Shimano Winter Series; very relieved to know this would be the last race of the series and a little concerned as I knew heading in that I wasn’t close to being in my best shape. I skipped the 5th race to attend a friend’s wedding resulting in a four week break. I did get a fair amount of riding in on my geared bike, but I knew my cardio had suffered during this time.
The No-Cardio look
There were a lot of single-speed racers in the 35+ category, most of whom are very quick riders who came out to prepare for the Fontana City National race the following weekend. I think single-speed might be an acquired taste built over time. In the 34- category was Eric, Rod, Adam and I.
I managed a very good start right out of the gate and doing a pretty good job holding back the majority of the pack until we reached the water tower climb. This is where I could really feel my lack of cardio and time on the single speed bike. My heart rate is sky-high and I feel like I’m breathing through a straw as I pound my way up the hill and lose several places during the climb. Through the next couple of small climbs I find myself pretty out of it and even end up choosing to hike-a-bike through a couple of the grittier sections. I know Adam is close behind as I run though the course and get back to the single-track. Through this section I encounter a little bit of traffic, Fred (in the 35+ category) is calling for me to go ahead and make the pass, but I tell him he’s fine, I’m exhausted and don’t think I could manage to pull away from him. After a couple more minutes of recovery, I let Fred know I’m ready to go by and manage a very clean pass, neither of us losing momentum in the process. Fred is a great, experienced rider, who usually beats me up the hill. I’m a lil more care-free, and risk-taking in the single-track though and we usually end up meeting somewhere in between.
Tickets to the Gun Show is that way…
Lap one ends, with RL yelling that Adam is right on my tail as I go through the starting straight. I manage to hold Adam off through the water tower climb and find he’s right on me on my second hike-a-bike (Adam pedals through everything). I put in a small gap as we snake through more single-track only to lose most of it when my front tire washes out on the down-hill from the upper level to lower level (where you can take the concrete channel or the dirt path). I can feel some blood running down my forearm, but decide to not look at it; I don’t want to know until the race is over. With about a third of a lap to go, Adam passes me. I pedal hard and manage to pass him back as we head into the 2nd to last climb. Adam is relentless though and pulls back ahead of me near the sewage canal on the back straight and I give everything I’ve got spinning my 32×18 with everything I’ve got left but it’s not enough as I watch him pull a bit of distance on me. He’s clearly the better rider today.
Finally I relax and take light of the situation. I’m almost done, with the race and the series at which point I’ll be back to having more fun rides and free time. In a moment of enlightenment I smile and pedal across the finish, my time is about 5 and a half minutes worse than my last race. 4th for the day and 4th overall for the series.
4th for the day.
4th overall for the Winter Series.
I enjoy massive amounts of Carne Asada and watch Joe, Moe and Tony race Super-D. Its Tony’s first time racing it at the behest of his wife Kim. Tony kills it and wins the race. That’s what happens when you take a DH racer who has a bit of cardio and stick him on the Super-D course. We all relax and enjoy the awards before suiting up and practicing DH. The course is pretty easy, fast and smooth without a lot of rocks and I feel decent about the race to follow.
Sunday Morning I met up early with RL to get in a couple DH runs and it’s raining hard. I suit up and RL puts on his PJs and we hit the shuttle. The course is a little slick, but doing well considering the amount of rain coming down. We’re very cautious on the run, looking for what’s changed since yesterday. Joe, Kim and Tony pull up and we wait for them to make one more practice run. I’m feeling pretty good and confident and choose to lead this run.
Finally it’s time for my race run, I’m very careful not to get too amped up. Last time I was so pumped and adrenaline fueled that I was so stiff and trying to ride so fast I ended up crashing and taking myself out of contention. Purposely I make sure to ride at a comfortable speed and not push myself too hard. I flow through the turns, rocks and off-camber sections just like my practice run. I only worry about being fast in the fast sections and come out of the race unscathed and with decent 2:59 (for my second DH race and first without crashing). I know I could easily shave about six seconds off, but am satisfied with my 10th out of 20 or so entrants. You don’t realize how fast the Pro’s are until you race the same course as them. Most pro’s finish in under 2:20!
Photo by Dale Hernandez
Photo by Lizardking
The Winter Series was a lot of fun, especially with RL & Priscilla, Kim & Tony, Eric the Animal, The Moe and Just Joe out at the races. For now I’m planning at least a two-week hiatus. I guess I got to find my race calendar and see what’s next.