Race - Cool Mountain Bike Race

2008 Cool Mountain Bike Race
Two laps on the Olmsted Loop in Cool, CA.

19.36 Miles
2426 Feet Climbing
1:34 Hours
1353 Calories
180 Average HR
199 Max HR (Holy Crap!)
83 Average Cadence (But this is only for the last mile, when it decided to start working.)

I have done the Cool Mountain bike race five of the last six years. Last year I got third in the Sport category and I was hoping to better that result. Considering how much I have been training, it was a goal that was not unachievable.

I did the Tune Up and Warm Up that my coach prescribed. During my warm up my large water bottle, filled with Cytomax, had the bottom fall out and leaked all over my drive train. I had two small bottles, full of water, with me and ended up using only those. My cadence sensor wouldn't work, I attempted to revive it but to no avail. Already I was feeling unprepared....
The race plan that I had decided upon the previous night was to stay with the race leaders on the first lap and then pull away from them and hopefully crush them on the second.

I lined up at the start with about 20 other Sport racers in my age category. Just before we started we were told that ALL of the Sport racers would be going together, the younger men, older men and all the women. Some in my group got to the very front of the start and I lost sight of them right as the race started. We bottle necked within the first few hundred feet at the start of the singletrack. I passed as many people as possible, my heart rate spiking at 199 bpm, but there were still quite a few people in front of me. I couldn't tell who was and was not in my age group.

I kept passing people up the first climb, trying to keep my breathing in check and not overdoing it. I passed people going down the fast doubletrack, going down this faster than I ever have. The first creek crossing created a bottleneck as did the steep climb following. I followed some slower riders down the next track-and-a-half section and started trying to pass more people on the next long steep climb. I caught some more racers on the descent into Knickerbocker creek and was slowed by them until after the creek crossing and the climb out. I passed a few more on the following up and down sections and yo-yo'd with a few more.

I got up to the next section of singletrack, a tight ribbon, gently flowing down with tall grass on either side. I quickly caught a female single speeder that was going slower than me. With no place to pass I tried to get my breathing back under control and recover for the climb to follow.

After some more double track I came to the bog section. There was nobody close in front of me so I tried to watch the riders far in front of me to see the best line. I saw a rider disappear into the bog and decided that was NOT the line to take. However, because he was so far ahead of me, my perspective was skewed and I ended up taking his exact line. I ended up in the bog, hub deep. Bummer, indeed.

I fought with racers back and forth on the following climbs back to the start/finish, the beginning of my second lap.

At the lap marker I took some water and a Gu packet. Into the first singletrack section, thankfully, there was nobody in front of me and I was able to take the first jump for fun. I was able to carry my speed through the second jump into an immediate left turn. Up to the top of the next short hill, pick up my second water bottle and fly down the next descent with a high speed jump and then a high speed right hand turn.

The following singletrack descent and climb was a blur of crazy fast descending and lactic threshold climbing, with an open seat bag spilling all my tools as a bonus. Bonus! I was no longer carrying my tools, extra CO2 cartridges or second spare tube.

About the half way mark I caught a racer in my class. I figured by now I was up near the very front of my category, maybe this guy was the race leader. I pulled up behind him on the pavement descent, drafted him a bit, then pulled out in front and sprinted for the singletrack. Before the descent into Knickerbocker creek I looked back to see where he was, right on top of me, Bastard!

I pulled away from him on the climb out of Knickerbocker, keeping my heart rate around 184 bpm. I kept him at bay on the next descent too. On the next climb he caught me, we yo yo'd a bit, until I dropped my chain trying to get into granny gear. I cursed, got off my bike, tried to control my breathing, put the chain back on and started pedaling. At the top of the hill a single speeder let me by because the tight ribbon of singletrack was coming up again. Within seconds I caught another singlespeeder. I tried going around him but couldn't get any speed up on the grass and he wasn't willing to yield any speed to let me by. This is a fine way to piss off somebody when you are racing, fyi. After the singletrack opened to double track again I thanked him and wished him a good day as I dropped his lousy ass.

My competitor had caught another in our group (guess he wasn't race leader) and I had them in sight, only about 10 seconds ahead. I had the bog ahead to deal with and a good deal of climbing as well.

I kept my heart rate at 184 bpm (btw, my Lactic Threshold is 180) and alternated between standing and seated climbing. I gave it my all, got a better line in the bog and was pushing with all I had. Near the top of the next to last climb I saw they had caught another racer in my class, a team mate of mine. For fuck's sake, how many racers in my class were in front of me?!

I figured at this point there were three in front of me in my class and I wasn't reeling them in fast enough. Fourth place is as good as last so I backed off and made sure I didn't lose any position. A few older sport racers passed me but nobody else in my class caught me. I rolled into the finish line humbled and ready for my rinse off and beers.

I ended up with 7th place. In years past I would have probably considered this a good finish, but not this season. First place is the only one i'd have been pleased with.

Consolation prize is that I was only a little over five minutes off the leader. Had I gotten a better start and made a few other race decisions better maybe I could have made that up.

After the race I won some raffle prizes which were worth far more than my entry fee. That made me feel better too.

Year after year, Cool is a really fun race with great competition and awesome raffle prizes.

No comments: