Feels like its been a long road back even though it really hasn't been in the grand scheme. But I think this was proof of concept that even though I will continue to deal with RA or whatever the hell I've got the dietary stuff I'm doing is working and I'll be able to come out on Sundays and brutalize myself. THANK GOD.
I had pretty realistic expectations going into this race. I figured I wouldn't know how to use gears properly at race pace (confirmed) and I figured I was going to get shelled out of the Expert Vet I field pretty fast (mostly confirmed). I have settled on the fact that my fitness profile really doesn't lend itself to the shorter XC stuff. Things seem to break down for me pretty quickly when efforts are near max for prolonged periods but I am perfectly happy at 80% for 7hrs.
But racing like a spaz at MAX can be so fun!
And man did I go full spaz first lap trying to hang a bit above my pay grade. I realized very quickly that I had become very accustomed to that SS governor that keeps overall speeds in check to a certain extent. I'm not used to dropping gears and getting up to 25+mph and barreling into singletrack with 30 other dudes.
I'm also much more used to all that early traffic blowing right past me relatively quickly. Lap 1 was probably the longest I have spent in the middle of the Expert field 'scrum' in my whole career. It was a bit nutty. I'll be the first to admit I don't really have that killer instinct when it comes to making passes and really racing for yourself at the expense of others. I'm far too friendly in those scenarios. It was interesting to see more of those interactions of guys getting pissed and making sketchy passes, mid-race heckling...good times.
I was trying to hold wheels as best I could but I was getting pretty thoroughly swamped. Riding the opposite of smooth, very unsettled on the bike. I even managed to drop my chain not once but 3 times on lap 1. I have never dropped the chain on that 1-by setup before yesterday but apparently diving into root fields at ludicrous speed all while trying to pedal the whole time will do it. Those chain drops did a great job of getting me dropped and passed by large groups of guys.
attempting to finish strong
At the very least those spaz induced issues got me into a bit of open space so I could start to ride my own race. Looking at my data it appears like my second lap was only about 2 minutes slower than my first which is a pretty good sign for any endurance endeavors I might have for this year. In my head I was pretty well out of the mix so I wasn't really consciously trying to pull anyone back. Per usual I was actually more in the mix than I thought and if I had gone about things differently I think a top 15 could maybe have been in the cards but that would have required riding like a spaz again so screw that.
Tail end of the second lap I fell into a small group of Elite women. I got stuck with them for a bit because I didn't want to force any weird passes and risk crashing someone out. I did get yelled at to close some gaps which was awesome. Yes Ma'am right away! I was able to finish decently strong and I certainly felt like I had more in me and today I have almost no race hangover and feel 80-90% recovered. So I think the message is clear. XC is fun / training but if I actually want to be competitive stick to the 3hr plus races. And I'm ok with that.
Next up is The Grind up at Millstone. Been many years since I've raced/ridden up there, very much looking forward to it. Doing the Marathon class...not very long at 24 miles but the trails are much harder up that way so it should be a long / hard race. #yeeehaaa