Hopefully this report is a bit more punctual than the last few I've filed on a delayed basis. The IMBC series struck up again this weekend with the Ingawanis race near Waverly. This was my first race back from Colorado last year and one of the more fun races I'd done up to that point. Looking back, its still one of the more fun races I've been to. The terrain is a great mix of flats, rolling terrain, and some definite technical features from rocks, drops, and steeps both up and down. The perfect makings for a race course. I've got a whole other post in mind about my changing expectations for this race season, but suffice it to say, I've seriously downgraded my goals to the following: finish, don't be last, and don't crash. The last one is optional as sometimes its just not in the cards to stay blood free. I managed to meet all of my goals at this race, so I figure it must have been a success.
Maria, Jordan, Kurt, and I gathered together early for a carpool ride up from Des Moines to Waverly. After a few stops along the way we made it in plenty of time for a preride before the beginners were sent on their merry way. Kurt and I tooled along checking out the terrain and all was relatively pedestrian until we hit the small rock garden section. I bobbled, stopped, and unclipped for a pretty slow trot through and wondered if I'd do any better come race time. After that, we rode the rest of the course and found some more areas that would thrill come race time. The lap ended up being a shade under 6 miles with 500' of climbing per lap. With the experts slated for 4 laps, I knew pacing would be key for me.
As we waited around for the line up and start, I began to feel a bit more nervous than usual. My head wasn't really in the right place for racing. That's something a little new for me to deal with. I'm usually pretty fired up and the butterflies are just a fleeting instance before the sensation of being ready to throw down sets in. That wasn't the case today as I was still pretty tepid feeling at the line up. I slotted myself at the back of the pack and when they dropped the flag, I pedaled off in no real hurry. My legs were pretty dead feeling even with the pre-ride as I'd been off the bike for a few days before the race. The starting climb up the gravel road and into the singletrack found me dead last in the men's expert field and having a couple of the stronger ladies slotted in front of me as well in the form of Robin and Sandy from Mercy/Specialized.
The opening downhill woke me up a bit and I worked my way up a couple spots in the first open passing section and was now past 1 lady and 1 guy. So far so good as I had Robin and team mate Jason squarely in my sites. I knew Jason would be pacing well as he had done it with success at Sylvan and passed me after about 4 laps in the race. I figured I could key off of him and mark his pace as something to match. I rode well, but within my limits on all of lap 1 hanging pretty close to the 2 wheels in front of me. Robin offered the pass, but I was pretty content to sit where I was.
We came around for lap 2 and I felt pretty decent at this point. I was rolling the downhills pretty well, but the flats were leaving me trailing off the back with a severe lack of power and the uphills were just rolling ok. I had no snap what-so-ever on the flat sections and never could get in the climbing mindset where I was willing to turn myself inside out so I'd just cruise up them rather than hammer. Mid way through lap 2 btoh Robin and Jason opened up a small gap on me and I could close it somewhat at various points, but never got back on their wheels.
Into lap 3 and I was feeling pretty even. I grabbed a gel as I eased my way up the gravel road opening climb again. I was pretty well alone at this point with both my rabbits out of my line of sight for the most part. I started rolling the downhills with a little more authority and really felt like I nailed the opening combination for the first time. That is until I hit the bottom and had to slam on my brakes to avoid missing the turn. My focus lapsed for a second and I nearly rode straight through the caution tape barrier. All my momentum from the downhill was now gone with the squeeze of a lever and I had to push hard to get back up to speed. I started trying to feel the rhythm of the course at this point and used the flow to help push a bit harder. I little more corner speed and pushing a little harder on the straights seemed to work for me. As the lap progressed I slowly reeled Robin back in. I had one section of rolling terrain along the top of a ridge where I'd really been riding fast and used this to work right back on to her wheel. I finally took the pass about 2/3 through the lap and pushed a bit to open a gap. I could still see Jason rolling along roughly 30 seconds up and had all but given up on catching him.
My turn on the bridge:
Lap 4 was more of the same. I still didn't clean the 1st rock garden as I always bobbled and would unclip somewhere. I nailed the downhills pretty well and just turned the pedals over on the uphills. As we wound our way to the last 1/4 mile or so of trail, I saw Jason up ahead and he appeared to be walking. I blew it off and figured he was just standing to crank up a hill. Then I got to the final clearing about 150 yards until the finish and could see him slowly jogging his bike along with some sort of mechanical. Hoping to snag one more spot, I sprinted it out with him to the finish. I'd like to say my sprint was strong enough to outrun a guy pushing his bike, but alas, Jason bested me across the line by a scant couple of seconds. All in all a fun way to end a pretty good couple hours on the bike.
Digging for the sprint:
Beat by a guy with no chain:
I looked at my numbers post race on the garmin and everything looked consistent until the last lap. It appears I dropped off a full minute, but that doesn't seem right as it sure didn't feel like I was that much slower in any section. I averaged towards the bottom of my zone 4 heart rate with a 170 bpm, and we rode 23.6 miles and 2100' of climbing. I had my pacing down pretty well, but in retrospect, it was a shade too mellow. I'm not sure if that was something I did intentionally or more of a response to how I was feeling at the start. I barely peaked into zone 5 the whole time which means I rode really consistently for output and effort. I was tired and my legs were plenty sore at the end, but I wasn't nearly as dead as I've felt in previous races.
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