Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Lowell 50.... "28 mile version"

I made the decision to do the Lowell 50 last week. After having such a great time at Barry, I was itching to race, and itching to race on the gravel even more. I have had this race on my radar for some time now. So I began to check out the web site to learn a little more about the race. When I seen the course profile, I knew I had to do it. It was set up perfect for me. Short steep hills in the beginning, long power flats through open farm fields, followed by a few more rollers for good measure. I was in! I decided to do the 28 miler to stick with my training for all out XC Mountain bike race distance. And as the week led up to the race, I was getting excited for a new challenge.

Well race day came, and it wasn't a very smooth start. I got to bed late the night before from packing all my racing crap. And then half way to the course, I realized I forgot my computer! UGH! Not only was I not going to know my time, I would be racing on a course I never seen before. Nothing like racing blind. So I was not happy with myself. I get to the race, get my number and then start assembling my bike. Then I find that my front tire is flat. Oh man, this is a very strange day. I swap the tube and found that the old one had a ripped valve stem. How does that happen the day before a race? I take some time to relax and skipped my warm up because I was freezing and not very motivated at this point. With about 15 mins to the start, I roll up to the line since everyone was already trying to get their spot picked out. I chatted with many friends and was now starting to feel the vibe again. I was ready to rock!

The 50 mile racers took off first, and then it was the 28 mile group. We rolled out at a decent pace, and I soon made my way to the first 10-15 spots. We hit the first covered bridge about 1 mile in and made the transition to the gravel. I moved up a few more spots. Another mile in, we were already picking up the the tail of the 50 mile group. And then things began to go up and steep! We hit the first big climb hard. Instantly guys in the 28 mile group began to fall back. I quickly made my way around as many as possible and found myself in the front of the group. We were down to about 10-15 guys. I soon found an allie in the group - Jeff "Slayer" Haney. Jeff was in front of me and putting out a good pace. I pulled up and said "hey Jeff, lets work together". He was very happy to see me and we pushed ahead. We stayed on the front for about 5 miles. The wind was absolutely brutal for most of the course, and no one would offer to help. So Jeff turned up the screws and began to attack every hill. I followed and took my pulls. One by one riders were popping. We got to about the 8 mile mark or so, and were finally able to assess the damage we have done. We now had about a 30 sec to 1 min gap over the chasing group. We both felt strong and agreed to keep the pace as high as we could. By this time, we were getting into the flatter farm land. I told Jeff to hang onto my wheel and I would pull through this section as long as I could to grow the gap. About half way through I asked Jeff a question, but he didn't respond. I looked back and realized I had about a 300yrd gap on him now. But could also see the chase group behind him. I was able to keep the high pace, and felt great. I knew I was at least at the half way point by now but really didn't have a clue as to exactly how close I was. At each corner, I would ask the cops, course marshals, spectators how close I was to the finish. I think they all said "your almost there" or "not too far to go". I just continued to poured it on. I would make sure I was maintaining the gap to Jeff and not blow myself up at the same time. As we rounded out the end of the race. We had to battle the 15 mph head winds again all the way home. I came into the final paved section. Folks were all lined up on the road and at the start/finish area clapping and cheering. I was able to slow down a bit and take it all in because I was all alone and in the front. I raised both arms in the air and crossed the line in 1:29:32. I took the win in the 30-39 men, and I also finished with the fastest overall time for the 28 mile race. I have to say this is a first for me. And one that felt really good.

Thanks to Jeff Haney for working with me and pushing me throughout the race! You are a big reason I was able to pull this off. And congrats on your win in the 40-49 men, and 2nd overall in the race!

Training has been going really well, and now its time to turn to the single track! Next Stop Yankee Springs Time Trial!

1 comment:

Paynful said...

Nice job Chunky!! Way to play your cards well... Proud of you!!

Now you can step up and do the big boy race next year!! ;)

See you at Yankee!!