After the 24 hour race, I've got to say, I think the euphoria of doing well left me a bit of post race hangover. I took a day off the bike and then blew my plans for easing back into things with Renegade Cross practice that Tuesday night. My legs still felt pretty dead and the addition of running and jumping didn't do much to help that fact. Add in a bee sting on the sweet part of my inner thigh and I wasn't feeling much love that week. I pulled it back together though and got a few recovery miles in and was feeling much better about things by the end of the week. Saturday morning rolled around and I went out for some gravel miles to get the legs back under me. Sedore pretty much showed us his ass as he hit it hard right off the bat and put a gap in that we couldn't pull back.
On Saturday afternoon, some friends came in town for the races and we met up at Sycamore to get a feel for the ruts since I hadn't ridden there since 2000 and he'd never ridden it. We quickly realized, that we weren't missing much by not having ridden it. The scenery is great, but the complete lack of disregard for the trails from the motorized users was appalling with the ruts and leftover mud bogs. We rode down to the trestle bridge and back. On the way back, we punched it up from fish camp to the parking lot and figured the TT times would be in the 8-10 minute range at the most. After that it was time for a bit of grillin' and chillin' back at our casa.
We all rolled out to the science center trails early enough on Sunday to take our sweet time and get a lap in before the race. I really didn't need a lap considering I ride the trails all the time, but I figured a good warm up was in order. That's about the time Ryan announced a bit of a shakeup in the race. We'd be running both Hillside and Rollercoaster in a backwards format and doing 2 consecutive laps. That certainly was going to make things interesting as I don't think I've ever done Hillside fully in reverse. As fate would have it though, I'd ridden part of Hillside and Rollercoaster in revers just a couple weeks earlier, so I at least had a partial clue on the flow.
Keith and I took off on a recon lap and my legs weren't feeling the greatest right off the bat. I slowed a bit and decided to get more spinning in as they warmed up. Slowly they worked around and by the time we were done with Hillside, I felt pretty decent and it was close to starting time. We headed off to the line and were greeted with a bit of a clusterfuck. People were missing their start times left and right by not being ready to roll at the prescribed time and the timers in a moment of indecision decided to pull the next racers into the open slots and send them out to keep the show rolling along as quickly as possible. This works great in theory, but when you're hand timing everything, trying to recount minutes forward and back without a specific minute reference of when the rider took off becomes very difficult.
Soon enough I was at the line and felt pretty decent. I hammered the short pavement section and flew into the singletrack. I was a bit jacked up at this point and really screwed up the short first section of Hillside with bad line choices and trying to run it too fast. In all it didn't cost me much time, but really drilled it into my brain that I needed to work on being smooth and the speed would follow. Sure enough, I got my flow going and halfway through Hillside I passed my first minute man in the form of Sumpter. He was a bit surprised I had caught up that quickly (as was I), but he pulled and let me pass with nary a second lost.
Looking good, but screwing up the first section:
I passed a few others as I worked my way into Rollercoaster. By this time Cam was hot on my tail and I gave him a quick line around me as we headed towards the creek crossing. Shortly after that, I felt one more rider closing in on my. Jed was tearing up the course in hot pursuit of Cam. I offered him a pass before the gnarly climb up to the meadow, but with him on a single speed, he couldn't partake until we'd gone about halfway through the meadow section. We both rolled back down to the start finish going all out, but his single speed let me latch back on as we hit the pavement for the last time. As soon as we hit the climb to the singletrack though, he was gone. I screwed up the start section again this time, just not as badly as the first time through. After that, it was hustle and flow through the remainder of the 2nd lap. I hammered it down to the finish line and awaited my time.
2nd lap finding some flow:
Back to the timing issue. I had mistakenly turned off my timer at the start of my 1st lap and didn't notice until I had completed one lap of Hillside. I turned it back on at that point and timed out the rest of my race. I wasn't sure of my time, but based on how long it took me on my 2nd lap through Hillside, I should have been right at a high 36 to low 37 minute time. Results had me listed at a 38:10 which was definitely off by my calculations. The missing man formation had come to roost for the unlucky souls that were trying to figure final times. Things were finally straightened out though and I managed a 37:10 for the 2 laps which put me in 2nd place for my class.
We had a couple hours to kill before the afternoon TT through Sycamore which was rescheduled from earlier in the year. In all, I liked the format of doing both races in 1 day as it helped pull more people in from outside the area and the 2 for 1 pricing played into that as well. Not to mention the fact that the afternoon TT would be very short due to unplanned construction in the middle of the trail.
We all lined up by number again, but due to people missing from the morning, the timers would again have their hands full in the final calculations. At least this time, they knew it going in and were a lot better prepared to compare start and finish times. Sumpter was once again ahead of me on his single speed and we joked on the line that I'd be hunting him down. He took off like a shot as I waited my turn. I hit the trail with everything I had left. I just about shot through the first sandy corner and cost myself a few precious seconds as I skidded almost to a stop to get back on line with the trail. After that, things flowed pretty well. I did cut a little too close to the inside on the tree that had fallen across the trail. I was treated to a nice rap on the helmet and a spot of road rash on my back as they both made decent contact. After that, it was a game of keeping my heart crammed back down my throat as I indeed tried to hunt Scott down.
Burning all the matches:
The finish line was at the end of a decent straightaway that you could sprint down. Of course, less than 50 yards past the finish line was a drop into the creek, so it made for an exciting sprint to full lock up the brakes end to the TT. Scott stayed out in front as I only managed to close the gap to around 15 seconds back in the short span. Overall I squeaked a 9:28 for the TT which garnered me a 1st in class. Definitely a productive day for racing on my end. CITA threw a pretty nice bash at the end with free beer and a goody box that we all mauled like a bunch of wild animals as soon as the top racers had their pick of the litter.
Mauling the prize chest:
In all, I've got to say I really enjoyed the TT's. I tried my hand at the science center TT last year as one of my few races and didn't enjoy it nearly as much. Of course, I think that may have been in large part due to my complete and utter lack of training or riding of any sort at that point of the summer. With my time and focus on the bike this year, things have definitely been going well for me. A couple more races in the series, some fun "racing", and possibly a cross race or two and I'll be pretty well spent for the year.