Ever have one of those days? Yesterday was one for me. Everything just seemed to click and although work is work, my time on the bike was out of this world for the most part. I know, I zigged and then zagged, but hey, that's just me.
I commuted in yesterday in record time of just a shade over 30 minutes. Not bad for the mountain bike. I'm riding it this week in prep for this weekend's Almanzo 100 race in Rochester that Squirell and I are headed to. I figure some good miles getting back used to pushing wide tires and a heavier frame would be good practice versus zipping along on the road bike the whole week. It also gives me a chance to shake down seeing if anything needs tweaked before I head out Friday. The commute home was a bit harder with a nice stiff headwind all the way home and the detour I cut through in the morning was sealed off with the presence of workers so I had to tack on an extra mile or so.
It was off to the races almost literally as soon as I got home. Squirrel and the boys were meeting up at 6 for race pace riding at the entrance to Denman's woods. I boogied from home in the truck at 5:15 and was back on the bike 20 minutes later. I figured with almost 20 miles on my legs they might be a bit lethargic tonight, but that definitely wasn't the case. It would seem I need almost that many miles just to warm up good. I road the new exit to Denman's to see how it was rerouted. It was actually just a very slight change in route that kept you out of the muck getting to Dirty Express and worked out well. While I was waiting for the boys to show up I ran into Pete and had a good conversation with him. He gave me some pointers on clearing some obstacles and by then, everyone had shown up.
We hit the entrance to the trail and it was on. I wish my heart rate monitor had been working as I know I kept my rate in the low 180's for pretty much the entire ride through Denman's. I'm betting it was an average of 175 or a few beats higher. I had one rider chasing me and the rest were off the front. I put Pete's advice to good use and cleared the big log pile that's thrown me down twice for the first time in the dry. Victorious, I let out a whoop and instantly felt silly, alive, and amazing all at the same time. It was the start to a great night. The trail was mostly empty in Denman's so we hauled ass through there and I fought to stay ahead of the chaser. Jumping logs faster than ever before, taking turns too hot at times, and just accelerating for all I was worth out of every slow down. I worked myself over big time. We finally hit the end and I stopped to talk to my chaser. He was trying to catch me as much as I was trying to not be caught, awesome!
A quick shot down Dirty Express led us to Squirrel's nest and Rhythm before jumping across the trestle to the Science center side of things. I dropped my pace down a bit in both of these areas and just focused on keeping another rider in sight in front of me with an occassional slow down to keep off his wheel. Not bad considering he was riding a Karate Monkey on cross tires! As we hit the paved trail and headed towards the Science center, I saw Squirrel and the other two fast riders hitting J11. Seems Squirrel had a partially broken freehub that was intermittently turning his ride into a fixie. That's great if you're expecting it, but not so much when you need to coast and it tries to fling you over the bars! I hauled butt to catch up to them and then hung on the back as they were taking it a bit easy nursing the broken hub back towards the shop.
We parted ways at the end of J11 and I headed back down the trail to the center trails. I opted out of suffering the climbs on Hillside and took a turn through Rollercoaster. Rollercoaster has been the one trail I have yet to come close to taming. Tonight would be different. I was feeling it and decided to not be so damn cautious on the water crossing and just nail it. Amazingly enough it worked. I soaked my ass with water on two of the crossings, but only had one slight bobble as I spun on a rock climbing the middle crossing. I even managed to ride up the switchback area I'd previously only been able to walk up. I was just crushing it (at least for me). I really wasn't working on riding hard, but more staying upright and making it through the trail at this point. Then, another set of riders came up and I hollered rider up. Unfortunately we met at a small bridge and we just about passed each other when I caught my pedal or wheel on something and flipped over the bars at a whopping 2 MPH! Nothing hurt but my price, I bounced right back up, told the other riders no worries and got right back on. I rode the rest of the ride with no other mishaps.
A quick shot back down J11 and then hit the pave trail over to Rassy's. Squirell was just headed out after dropping his bike to fix later this week. I sat down and cracked open a cold one with Greg (the owner). We had a damn nice time shooting the breeze and sucking down the brew. I mentioned that I was racing this weekend with Squirrel and wondered if he might have any of the team jersey's left in a large. Open popped the boxes and just like that I've got my first team jersey and and damn proud to promote the shop. Granted, I have no illusion that I'm part of any of the "race" teams they sponsor, but I'm happy to fly their flag and will do what I can to give them a good showing. It was the perfect end to one of the most kickass rides I've ever had.