I Hate Hike-a-bike racing

The second race of the Southridge Winter Series was this weekend. The weather was a significantly warmer than the previous race two weeks ago by almost 20 degrees. Not so much winter weather for the winter series. After the results from the last race being four minutes behind the race leader, my goal for this race was to improve my time and try and close the gap on this rider. However, upon registration for this race, I was notified that the course would be different than the previous route, and would be two laps instead of three this time because of this change. The course change was an added climb and technical decent. Well, that negated my goal to improve my time from the previous race.

Loading up on Gatorade pre-race.

As soon as I was prepped and ready to start warming up, I headed to the starting line to ride the course and find the changes. Just before what would have been the first climb I found the change, a hard left up a hill. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t another hill. This was a 5+ minute hike-a-bike (HAB). Even during the race, I didn’t see anyone riding up this section. Other than the added route, the rest of the course was pretty much the same.
Leaving the starting line.

I felt fairly good out off the line and got a good start. One of the ways I wanted to push to gain time is to make sure I’m spinning as fast as I can on the flats, and making sure I don’t slow down from trying to recover from a previous climb or catch my breath. One thing I worked on this week in my workouts was to focus on breathing through the most strenuous exertions. I have notice I have a tendency to forget to breathe during the toughest parts. I definitely felt a difference when it came to this race. It was my legs that where burning through most of the race, not my lungs, which is something I had been working toward. I quickly came up to the first big climb, the added HAB. My goal on the HAB section was not to lose any ground. By the time I made it to the top of the hill my calves were absolutely on fire. I quickly jumped back on my bike and a brief flat section allowed me a chance to gain some momentum before starting the last bit of the climb, which was actually rideable. I made it to the top and began the more technical single track down this section. I felt strong on the descents, and for a few minutes I wasn’t racing I was just having fun. I noticed I was hitting the sharp turns on the back side of the hill very strong and with little braking through the turns. I had full-suspension geared bike behind me who were not gaining ground.
Spinning through the flats.

Quickly enough the first lap was done, and I was still feeling strong, now just to do it again. This time the HAB was even worse, if that was possible. I let some of the older geared riders by who were almost running up the hill. After struggling on the hike, I finally reached the top and was ready to finish the rest of the race ON the bike. I headed down the single track trying to make up or gain any ground I could in this section. After the steep single track climbs I had to take a few seconds to recover before charging ahead. Down the back side of the hill for the last time, and I could tell I was starting to get fatigued in that I noticed I was not hitting the sharp turns as hard and fast the as first lap. I focused on not braking through the turns and accelerating out of them. Down the last hill to the flats, and there are no other riders in sight. I up my cadence as high as I can muster and head toward the last section. Clearing the last drop, it is now an all out sprint to the finish.
Headling for the last lap.

I ended up placing 3rd. I felt stronger throughout the race as compared to the previous race. Instead of being four minutes behind the previous race leader, I was approximately 50 seconds behind the same rider. There was a new rider in my category who took the win. I’d call closing the gap from four minutes to one an improvement. Even with moving down one place, I felt like it was forward progress. Goal for the next race: to keep the rider ahead of me in sight all the way to the finish line.
Podium Results

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