The winter holidays came and went all too quickly for me. I had dreams of a 3 month off-season but the 1st race of the 2010 winter series was approaching quickly and I decided to treat this as training for the bigger races from March to May. It was a beautiful day with temps in the 70s and as usual Don Jackson and his crew at Southridge Racing do an excellent job in providing a fun race environment. I noticed more entrants in the younger categories, it’s great to see more kids getting into this sport!
For Sport, the course was the same as November’s Southridge Challenge – three, 5.5mile laps. This was gonna be a challenge as I do better on the longer courses at Southridge, they have more singletrack and downhill that suit my riding style and help me make up time on the stellar climbers in my category (Sport 27-34). Climbing is my weakness, I have a gut and at 185lbs (5’8″) I’m heavy/stocky for an XC racer. I even have a habit of blowing up in races by sprinting from the start line for too long! After about 6 weeks without training, I knew that I couldn’t hold a sprint very long. So when Donny counted us down and we took off, I dropped into third and planned to keep the leaders in site. We climbed to the water tower and the leaders gradually pulled away and I fell back a few more positions leaving me a panting, sweaty mess as I mushed my way up the hill. I recovered in the single track sections to regain third and moved into second on one of the long downhill sections. My strategy became clear.
I held second to start the next lap and as we climbed to the water tower I was passed again, but I kept my competitors in sight this time. Through the single track I was flowing and managed to close the gap as we approached the downhill where I previously passed. We start heading downhill and I’m cranking hard, building speed to shoot past #2 and eventually the race leader. Next is a short uphill I desperately climb and barely manage to keep the wolves at bay into the next downhill singletrack section where I can build a gap. I finish lap two and begin lap three. I don’t see anyone as I begin to grind my way up to the water tower, my right knee burning in protest as I try to put some power down. After negotiating some of the rolling hills near the water tower as I grit my way up the last climb before the single track, I look back and see 2nd place 10 yards back and attacking! I attack, he knows he is close and is trying to catch me. I sprint, my legs grow thick and heavy with lactic acid, my lungs burn as I sink into oxygen debt my pulse fills my ears, I can only hold this pace for a moment more. I put about thirty yards between us as crest the hill and bomb into the single track. I pedal all the downhills and by the end I enjoy a 2 min victory! Before you think that I was lying about not being in shape, I finished in 1:12:51, in November I finished in 4th with a 1:10:52, so that means that the fast guys just didn’t show up for this race and I’ve got some work to do.