Race - Howell Mountain Challenge

Downieville was my first long race in Expert. I've done some local series in Expert, but those were limited to about 1 1/2 hours at the most. I was really curious how this would shake out.

Got the bike ready the day before, got up at 4:45 am for the 3 hour drive from Nevada City to Angwin. Had plenty of time to warm up and drop off some bottles for the 2nd and 3rd laps. About half way into my warm up my rear shifting started acting up. I've been having problems with my rear shifting sticking very badly, I have new XTR rear der, put on new housing and the cable is relatively new. I've also had trouble with my SunRace rear cassette coming loose and the chain jumps around when this happens. My drivetrain is a mess!

Tightened the cassette and went to the start line.

Started at the very front of my group. When we hit the first bit of singletrack there were only two people behind me. I started flailing early on. I started passing people right after that and kept passing. First lap I kept slipping and sliding around the tight corners and kept my HR around 183 on the climbs. Traded pulls with a few people on the first lap but didn't catch anyone else.

Second lap I dropped dumped a water bottle and decided to race with just one bottle and rely on the water feeds for the rest of my hydration.

The second lap started out pretty good. I was feeling tired but pretty strong around the reservoir and hammered into the singletrack. I was having some serious shifting problems now and only had about four gears in the back, not always the same four, just a random four. I mostly relied on my front three.

After the first water zone a single speeder caught me and suggested we should catch the guy in front of us. So, I hammered down the fire road descent, the one with the water breaks and gaps. Fast, so fast. Didn't exactly realize I could descend that fast that comfortably. That was fun! Caught the guy we were trying to at the start of the last climb before the giant whoop-de-doos.

Third lap I dumped my empty water bottle and grabbed a new one. I was very tired now, my shifting was getting even worse (I was now having trouble with my front shifter now too, so much stiction my thumbs were hurting from shifting), my shock was getting a lot of stiction and my (five year old Crossmax) slick ceramic rims were locking up in an unpredictable manner. Awesome! So, I just trudged along, keeping my HR between 165 and 177. I downed Gu packets and keep my head together. I had some *almost* cramping in my legs. They would hesitate a bit when I pushed them but never actually went into cramping. A good thing.

After the second feed station I went as hard as I could and passed a few people on the last climb, the whoop-de-doos and the road leading to the finish.

According to the prelim results I got 4th, out of how many, I don't know. They only showed four deep. I was 3:08 off of third place. Not bad for my second real Expert race.

I am thrashed. I feel worse than I did after Downieville.

My time on my Polar HR was 2:46:16, average HR of 174, Max HR of 238 (the Polar has a tendency to get this REALLY wrong).

First Lap – 54:52, Av HR – 175, Max HR – 238 (wrong!)

Second Lap – 50:49 (no HR data???)

Third Lap – 1:00:33, Av HR 181, Max HR 220 (wrong!)

1 comment:

Maxx said...

It is great to hear that you pushed your limits and that your skills manifested themselves on the descent allowing for you to go faster than you initially thought was in your comfort zone. Way to go on you.

Too bad on the mechanicals, after my experience last Thursday night at Northstar I can say I know exactly how you feel.