But before I get to that, let me thank the rest of Blue Zoo squad who all put up extremely strong performances. They all owned it pretty hard.
This year our team consisted of Jen Caban, myself, Adam, and Jeremy. Our go to gal Natalie was called away to NY unexpectedly, but we were able to tap the Zoo extended family and Jen came through on short notice keeping us in the game...thanks Jen!
I dont know much about what happened during everyone else's leg of the race so I will just sum things up. Jen came in with a real strong time of 32min and change (best female time in the entire team division, scoring her $25 hard currency) and put me in great shape with little traffic in front of me. Adam picked up after me and put in a strong time of 38min and change (I think that was top 10), which is all the more amazing when you find out how overdressed he was. I would have passed out from heat exhaustion. Maybe he can elaborate in a comment... Dressing for races/rides in the fall can be tough, big temp swings from morning to afternoon and at race effort things warm up fast. Jeremy scorched the course similar to last year and came in with I believe a top 3 overall time of 24min and change.
With their help we netted 1st in the Co-Ed division and 7th overall with a time of around 2hrs 20min. Sounds great right? We got the syrup we came for and did well in the overall...goals met, head home happy right? Yes and no. Now to my leg of the race.
In the days coming into this race my health had finally been coming around and I was really starting to feel good on the bike again. I was feeling fast and confident and I was really looking to do well. Things got off to a good start, I got right to business and gassed it up to the stairs you have to run up the ski jump hill. I had already made two passes on the stairs and made two more shortly after that. I was starting to feel the pain and my heart was definitely pinned. I ran a few steep sections that I knew were coming but other than that I rode everything clean and was red lining but moving along at a decent pace.
I got a cramp about 3/4 of the way up the first half of the course that I thought was gonna screw things up but I was able to power through it and mentally I was getting pumped because I knew I was already coming up to the descent and I had snuck a peek at my watch and saw I was at 22mins. 2/3 of your time on this course is usually all the climbing and then the descent down takes about half as long so I was looking at hopefully no more than a 10 min haul back to the transition for a possible finish time in the 32-35min range. Right where I wanted to be. Then as I was riding the traverse trail to the main part of the descent I heard one of the most sickening sounds a biker can hear.
The sound of a rock that has hit just at the right angle and with enough force to reach your rim and pinch your tube. I heard that ever so slight *ting* and my heart sank. I knew what had happened but I kept riding anyway hoping that if I didn't look it would go away. Didn't work. Shortly after I started to feel the tell tale signs of my tire getting softer. I was able to ride for maybe another couple hundred yards before it was completely flat and my rim was bottoming out on everything. Immediately my mind flashes back to the parking lot when I was having the conversation in my head..."should I top my tires off? nah they feel okay."
I ALWAYS top my tires off. I cannot think any any other race I have done in the last 3-4 years where I haven't. What the hell was I thinking??!?!
Luckily I immediately went into kill mode. No way was I going to give up and screw everyone else over so I just started running like a maniac. Slipping all over the place, taking huge strides and using my bikes brakes to slow me down when things got crazy. I had about 2 miles to the transition area and I am no runner (yet) so I was hurting. But I just kept pushing, amazingly I was only passed by about 3-4 guys on the way down. But I pulled into the transition area with a time of 43mins and change a full 10mins longer than I had wanted.
Just before the finish I attempted to hop back on and ride the last downhill doubletrack. Someone was there documenting and I found a pic. I wish I also had the audio of my rim bottoming out on every root...
So now to the WHAT IF's...
If I had indeed come in with a time under 35 mins there is a chance that we could have won the race overall. I don't know that for sure because I haven't seen the official results to crunch all the numbers but it would have been very close. I will probably try to not crunch the numbers so that I never know for sure because really the what ifs are just a waste of energy. Mechanicals are part of racing off road and I did what I could with the situation. But man WE COULD HAVE WON THE WHOLE DAMN THING! oh well.
I had a blast (even though I didn't get to ride the best part of the course), the members of Team Pinnacle put on a great show as always and I really hope that they continue to get the support that they deserve.
I'll post race pics as I find them and results when they are posted.
I still put up a mid pack MTB time even running half the course. The guy who put up the third fastest time in the MTB leg finished about 4 mins slower than me at the Pinnacle X earlier this summer, so I should have been right up there. Next year I will be...