Ahhh. Lake Sonoma.
My buddy Ryan told me this would be a good one... and the race at Sonomas delivered. The course kinda reminded me of riding in Auburn and Santa Cruz. A bit more climbing in the beginning, but some fun "roller coaster" style trail in the later stages. I would've liked some more rocks... but then again, I'll probably always say that about a race course.
My strategy of keeping my heart rate below 160 was immediately thrown into a tailspin. I was running closer to 170 just to stay in the main pack going up the start road.... and we were still behind the pace car! Things would get even more desperate once the pace car pulled over and the promoter yelled GO!! I changed my plan of attack to not attack and just try to keep the leaders in sight and stay in the front group being pulled along by some guy named Levi. I could see the first few swithcbacks of singletrack as the course turned right off the pave' and I started counting back to my place in a long line of riders filing into the singletrack.... I was sitting in 23rd. Ideally I would've been up a bit further in the pack, but what's done is done and now it's time to try and settle into a pace that I think I can sustain for the next 3.5hrs.
Over the next hour I'd pass 10 riders putting me in the lucky #13th position. It would take me two more hours to catch the next three riders. Once the course started its way along the south shore of the lake, the longer climbs were over with and all that remained were many, many, many short, steep, punchy climbs. Very east coasty... if you will. I tried to stay in bigger gears and talk my legs into the theory of "the faster you climb this, the sooner you'll be able to take another break" .
In the end, I'd come across the line 10th. Some guy named Levi managed to win the thing giving me a 20 minute beating in the process. Meh. Could've been worse.
I was ridin' good. Couldn't have done much better. I'm probably kinda glad I didn't pre-ride any of the course. I wouldn't have remembered enough to make any sort of discernible difference in the outcome of things. Sure, I got into a few corners a bit too hot, but I'll bet everyone else did as well.
I got to thinking. I was talking to some guy named Levi afterwards and he was saying his bike weighed 22lbs. Hmm. Lets see. My bike weighs27 lbs. That's a difference of 5 lbs (or a 22.73% weight difference). Some guy named Levi beat me by 20 minutes in a 3ish hour race. That's a difference of roughly 10.7%. I think the writing is on the wall here kids. Do the math. If my bike would've been 2.5lbs lighter, I would've been sprinting for the line with some guy named Levi. If my bike was 5lbs lighter I would've crushed the guy!! I might have just missed my 15 minutes of fame by a mere 2.5lbs! Meh. Or I still would've got 10th. Who knows.
But hey, I didn't go down there by myself. I had some great company. First off, meet Sako (in the gray shirt). Sako had a great race. He even won a sprint to the end of the parking lot with a guy that was in his class (guy in the red shirt). Too bad for Sako, the official finish line was 30 meters further into the grass of the park. No worries Sako, there's only 364 more days until next year to try again.
Then there's Daryn, (aka D-Man) my co-pilot for this trip. It took me all week to talk D-Man into coming to this race. In typical fashion he registered the night before the race, hadn't ridden in weeks, showed up confused with two bikes at my house and crashed in a creek during the race drawing blood from most of his appendages, but hey... a hundred bucks for 3rd place isn't too shabby.
Last but not least, mad props to the promoter (in the red beside some guy named Levi). As well, mad props to some guy named Levi who donated all of his winnings ($750.00) to the Lake Sonoma Trails foundation. I've already marked the race on the calendar for next year.