Didn't expect anything less.
Round one of the Nevada State Championship series was in Gardnerville yesterday. As the guys to my right talk about their results at Sea Otter and the riders behind discuss training with power meters, I realized I'm in for one heck of a day.
Lap one: Suffer. Chest strap of heart rate monitor immediately slips down to my waist. Suffer some more. Hoping the pace mellows slightly. One hike-a-bike. Realize I can't hold the pace of the leaders and settle in 5th. Get caught. Get passed. Hop on! Still 5th. Following a local. Power course. Lots of big ring climbs. Fast and flowing high desert moto trail in the middle and end of the course. Trying to limit mistakes. My leadout guy blows a tire just before finishing lap one. I'm sitting 4th.. all alone.
Lap two: Laps start with a ripping descent. Then... then you pay. Three steep climbs with the last one having everyone off their bikes. I can see the lead three ahead on the third climb as I top out on the second. Their nearing to top of the hike-a-bike about 2 minutes out. Try as I might, all the teeth gritting, groaning, and digging deep I have in me ins't enough to bridge the gap over the next 10-15 minutes.
"Knock knock knock."
"Who is it?"
"It's the cramp monster."
"Oh, ok. I'll slow down now"
Back off the pace slightly. Force gel packs. Force water. Start "givin' er" again as the course tops out and starts descending. Try and hold momentum. Try and limit mistakes. Breath deep. Starting to struggle with staying in the big ring on the small climbs towards the end of the course. As elated as I was to see Summer with my spare water bottle nearing the end of the second lap, my good feelings were immediately crushed after looking back to see that I'm being caught by Monte running in 5th.
Lap 3: My strategy of riding the first descent like I'm on turrets works like a charm and I keep Monte behind me for another minute or so. I'm able to keep him slightly honest until the hike-a-bike.
"Knock knock knock."
"This is your last warning!"
Slumming the last lap. My drivetrain sounds bad. We've lost the sun and I've seen a few snow flurries. My hands... damn cold. All I can think about is food. Wish I had some. I roll across the line 5th. Cold, tired, achy.
Fortunately there was food after the race and two cheeseburgers hooked a brother up. This would ultimately lead to a nice "food coma" about a third of the way home on the drive necessitating a short nap a short distance off the highway. All in all... good fun.
Next race: June 6th. Let's hope it turns into summer by then.