Wilderness 101... I kind of forgot how hard this course was. Just about every muscle in my body is sore today. It was a quick trip. We left Friday, drove 8hrs to State College, did the 100 mile MTB race on Saturday. Then hopped in the car, drove home 8hrs and crashed in bed at midnight. I told one of the young guys here at work what we did, and he was like "I'd be dead right now." No shit.
I thought the legs were feeling good, and coming off the win at Bloomer last weekend, I thought for sure I was in for a good performance. The temps were mild, and the course was a little moist, which I prefer. The race got off to a nice start up the first big climb. I really like that about this course. There's plenty of room and time to sort things out and move around safely without crashing into each other. It seems every year the group that makes it over the first climb gets bigger and bigger. We had a huge peloton. Things pretty much stayed together until we hit the next climb just after aid #1. Justin Lindine put in a dig and I latched onto Jeremiah Bishops wheel. Jeremiah said he was doing about 350 watts. With him at 64 kg, and me at 85 kg, a quick calculation (350/64 = 5.47watts/kg x 85kg = 465 watts!) proves I was well over 400 watts for a good 15 minutes up that climb. No wonder I had a hell of a time recovering.
The next climb comes quick, and Tanguy made sure the pace was hard. I dropped off the back and didn't have the legs to stay with the group. It took me quite a while to recover and I lost a few more spots in the ensuing singletrack. Coming into aid #2, I felt terrible, but I knew in the back of my mind that I could ralley and take back some spots. I just kept telling myself that it's a long race, and those guys were going to get tired at some point. I was with Garth Prosser and Matt Ferrari heading up the big climb after aid 2. I still wasn't feeling well and those two were putting the hurt on me. I dug in though and did my best to keep Garth in site. Coming into the next climb, I started feeling better and managed to bridge up to Brandon Draugelis, but he quickly dropped me in the singletrack. I was riding the trails terrible and I kept having flashbacks to the big crash last year. I had a death grip on the brakes and handlebars. Some of that stuff is like riding on cinder blocks. It's a full body effort just to stay upright!
Garth and I hooked up on the fire roads heading out to aid #4. We were trucking and working well together. I was feeling better and better and I decided to make a big push on the climb out of aid 4. Garth was right on my heels and he even helped me push the pace on the climb. Later Garth put it down and I found myself all alone again until I passed Rob Spreng on the next climb. We descended the "pulvorizer" together. It's a long straight descent over the most jagged rocks you can imagine. It's why I could barely turn the steering wheel of the car on my way to work this morning. It's that rough! The bike survived and I was finally feeling recovered. I took a huge dig on the flat fire roads with Rob Spreng in tow. I managed to catch Garth and Brandon right before the final climb.
Brandon pushed the pace and got away. Garth helped pull me to the top. I was cussing at each ramp as I was now paying the price for the big effort to bridge on the flats. Garth told me to stop being a baby and hammer it out, so I did. We caught Brandon on the descent, but he was too quick through the fisherman trail and got away for 8th. Garth and I rolled in together for 9th and 10th. Thanks Garth for not making me have to sprint for that spot.
So that was it. No flats, no mechanicals, no worng turns. It was a clean race and I did the best I could and I had a great time racing with such cool people. Seems everyone is getting so much faster and we are all upping our game, which is a good thing. Let's hope I can recover now and get ready for the next adventure. Thanks for reading.
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Great race Mike--it always feels a little bit better knowing the course hurts the fast guys too--probably more!
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