Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hanson Hills XC

I knocked another one off the bucket list. This time, 2 birds with one stone! That being ride the trails at Hanson Hills, and do the Hanson Hills XC race. It worked out well. About 2 months ago, I realized that this race fell right in the middle of my peak/race period of my plan. And decided, what the hell so added it to my schedule. And I am glad I did.

I got up early packed the car and picked up Brad Lako for the quest North. We headed out early to drop off some fun promotion t-shirts, and Brad was originally going to race in the geared class, but he changed to the single speed class with me later in the day, to try and avoid a potential muddy disaster! So we had plenty of time to kill.  As we were chilling gangsta style at the start line next to the car, Brad said why are all those single speed guys lining up! I felt like I had an out of body experience. A fish out of water. Got caught for a crime I did not commit! Complete helplessness. HOW! WHY! UGHH! But it turned out it was the 5 guys not paying attention to the start time. I hope I never go through that again...

We lined up. And I did not know anyone. But there sure was a lot of fit fast looking dudes, and they all looked hungry. I started re-evaluating what position I really wanted to aim for, but that all changed once we started. I got a poor start, but the long section on double track allowed me to work my way up to the top 5 group just behind Brad. I was expecting all out warfare to start. But it felt like I was sitting in on a road race. This is cool I thought. We made it to the top of the 2nd climb, and I looked back and the rest of the field was no where to be found. We gapped'em, and the pace was the same. I did not know the trail or riders so I waited for the 1st moves to come from them. Finally just over half way, the first attack was made by a dude racing for Roll Models. No one reacted. I was in 5th position at this time, and had a hard timing getting the fusion rider and cross country rider ahead of Brad and I. Then a few mins later, Brad attacked and he attacked hard. I thought the others would respond, but nothing. He popped them! So I made my move to get on Brads wheel. I did everything I could to catch him but he was full gas the entire time. I was now sitting in 3rd with an ever growing gap behind and closing in on Brad. We started the 2nd lap and I was within talking distance to Brad. I was feeling great and ready to make my move, and my left hamstring cramped up?! This has never happened. What the hell? I could not get it to release until we started climbing the single track again. By this time Brad was growing his lead again. Finally the cramp went away, and I began to light my matches one by one. Through all the flats and short climbs I was pulling back time on him quickly. I finally made contact and at that time, we both saw we were bringing back the leader. We both surged hard and started to close in. And then, both the top of my quads completely cramped!!! NOOOOO! I had to back off and try to salvage a 3rd. I rode smart and kept checking for the fusion rider and Cross Country Rider to catch me. Nothing until the last 1-2 miles. By now I could barley climb, and relied on all my race experience to not allow my legs to cramp to the point of stopping. I knew I had the last big climb to go and a down hill finish. If I could just get to the top first, I would be OK. As I approached the top, my legs were screaming, but I was first. I tried to descend as fast as I could, and as I got into the last 2 turns before the finish line I heard "inside". I held my line to the tape giving nothing! and then went directly to the other side of the tape holding my line through the last turn and keeping the fusion rider from passing me. I salvaged my 3rd.... But what could I have done if I had never cramped?

Congrats to Brad on one of the best rides I have ever seen him put together. It was awesome to watch and be a part of!. That W is coming. And congrats to Jon W. and Alex G on 2 more great expert race performances!

Next week is my last week of my training plan before CX starts. I am looking to cash in all my chips at Fort Custer. So far my training has went as well as I could ever have hoped for. So I hope it means good things to come in the fall...