I finally figured out why my cross results aren't quite as good as I thought they might be...I'm not actually fit! Like really at all! Well I mean I am decently in shape, I haven't been doing nothing all summer but I certainly don't have the "normal" amount of race efforts etc. that I have in my legs this time of year.
I sort of had it in my head that despite that fact I had ridden enough to be in similar shape to years past. I had this in my head because I hadn't had a good familiar race MTB effort to inform me otherwise. Until yesterday when I got dusted at the No Brakes race. Apparently the sharp end of my fitness is about as sharp as silly putty.
I suppose in my defense the Expert field was a bit stacked. These late season races have a tendency to only bring out the folks who trend a bit more serious and fit. Who probably all have a full season of racing in their legs. And also in my defense I was in the back of the front group for maybe the first mile or so until putting my transmission in reverse.
It happened slowly but just about every time there was an extended climb or there was a prolonged straightaway power section or just about anything that required that punch, it just wasn't there and guys would pass me here and there for just about the whole first lap. I didn't feel bad on the bike and I was riding cleanly it was just like being at 3/4 speed and trying to hit the gas and getting nothing.
I got over it pretty fast though. I adjusted my expectations and just got to enjoying the fact that I was riding "hard" on my mountain bike and my wrists weren't really hurting. The trails at Stratham Hill Park aren't super technical by any means but they are certainly more than Franklin Falls which is really just about all I've been riding off road this year.
Even though I was hanging back in the tail end of the field there were still guys back there with me and it felt like racing. I got to battle with a guy second lap a bit. We were together for much of the lap. I was a bit smoother in the turny stuff, gaps would open and close. Ultimately I tried to 'attack' him right before the last climb of the day but really all I did was eliminate myself from contention once and for all. All my last little effort did was suck the last remaining glycogen stores out and initiate a nice little mini-bonk.
I was a bit lazy with race prep and probably didn't have enough calories before / during the race. We were only about 1mi out from the finish and if I had really cared I probably could have kept the pace up and battled and just collapsed after the finish but I definitely didn't care that much. Struggled up the last climb and soft pedaled in to the finish. Even got nipped about 20ft from the line by a guy finishing strong haha.
I really enjoy the course at No Brakes and I've said it before and I'll say it again I hope the promoter thinks about making the leap into one of the summer series. The facilities are great, the course is well balanced and the proceeds go to building and maintaining the trails at the park. Can't ask for much more than that.
My wrists are somewhat holding up this morning albeit a bit sore. I think this race was a good indication that I'll be able to get back into things next year at least on courses that aren't too crazy. It felt great to be out in the woods hurting real bad on some sweet trails. I didn't really realize how much I missed it. I think I can eventually get over not being as fit as I was in 2012 and just focus on being pain free and having fun. Here's to hoping I'll be back at it in 2015.