So here’s a little update of what Dave and Anne have been up to in their personal endeavors as athletes.
This past weekend we hit the road to travel up to Long Island, New York for a 6 hour mountain bike race – Something Wicked 6 hours of Cathedral Pines. It’s a long way to go to just ride your bike around in circles (and twisty, turny ones at that – if that is such a thing!) but its one that we have done a few years on the trot as its very close to Dave’s home town and where I really started to ride off road rather than on road! It was a nice chance to spend time with friends outside of the race itself and a chance to put ourselves on the line at a race we know so well, plus we are friends with the organizing team. As it turned out, we left the decision to make the trip up to do it until fairly last minute, we were waiting for my 11 week X-Ray to see how my broken bone was healing in my foot and what the specialist thought of me potentially racing. I had been back to riding single track for a few weeks but was still quite nervous of potentially something happening and putting myself back in the healing process. All things considered though, we both felt there was probably just as much a risk of me crashing and having some other injury as there was for me re-breaking it so, decision made after seeing good healing, I wanted to race! From Dave’s point of view, he had recently started to get the bug back for a little more of the endurance side of mountain biking again and was ready to put himself out on the line too as long as all looked good for me. So, Team DNA’s decision was made, lets go race!…
We left on our travels on Thursday so that we could make the most of the trip and start catching up with friends and to give us the chance to have a pre-ride of the course on Friday to familiarize and get rid of the travel legs, ready to race on Saturday. It was nice to head back to familiar ground but WOW it didn’t take long for us both to feel overwhelmed by the denseness of everything there and to feel so happy that we found our new home in such a beautiful area that we now live in!
Back to the race though… We both felt pretty good fitness wise, but honestly neither of us fully confident of how we may go when it came to the nitty gritty of totally putting everything out there in a race. We both felt we had reasons to potentially doubt our fitness, Dave had decided early on this year to take a bit of time off of going long after having a very strong season last year on the endurance circuit but just simply needing a break to switch things up somewhat and work on other aspects of biking and simply being more ‘well rounded’ as an athlete. I had just been riding a few weeks after 6 weeks off the bike with my broken 3rd metatarsal, so even though I had a couple of good races in me just preceding this, we all know how quickly fitness can drop when you’re not going after it. That being said, for both of us we had a good few weeks of training back in our legs so really wanted to just go see where we were at.
Saturday rolled around pretty quickly but we were happy to be blessed with warm temperatures, especially when we recalled being on the start line last year in less than 20 degrees! Positively toasty at around 40 this year! The start of the race is pretty nerve racking, I think more so than a lot of other races I’ve started, as we all line up at the bottom of a hill and have to race up that and then around a field before getting to the single track about a half mile in. Pressure is on to get to the single track before too much of a bottleneck builds up! So here’s how the race unfolded for both of us…
I know my weakness is the high-end power and sprint ability but I managed to get a reasonable start this year and didn’t have too much of a fight to get in the single track. I also didn’t feel too bad from the sprint that I had tried to put in (great! as I know I only have so many matches, so to burn them all at the beginning, I know I would pay for later!) All in all, the day went by pretty well. I felt consistently strong albeit the short accelerations of pace and lack of flow to the riding due to the tight twisty trails, (I have come much more accustomed to and feel spoilt by the great mountain biking that the area we live in now has, which is completely opposite to the trails on Long Island) So aside from the course not suiting me as a rider so much now, the lack of riding I had in me recently and some stomach issues that both Dave and I experienced I am happy to report that I had a solid, very consistent performance (each lap time being very similar). I finished up with a 3rd place, in such a strong field that this race attracts (not too far behind the well known Selene Yeiger in 2nd) I was certainly happy with that. Very consistently so of me too, I looked up my stats from last years race (after having really solid season, finishing 3rd overall in the National Ultra Endurance series) and my time for completing 7 laps this year was 6.24.12, last year was 6.24.57!! I don’t think I could have gotten such a close performance if I had tried!! A little better this year though, even after a lay off and lack of racing, which I always find helps to boost my fitness! All looks good for next year! Onwards and upwards!…
Whew! That was awesome…well kinda! Leading up to the race I was pretty set on not putting too much pressure on myself. After deciding to take the 2015 season away from endurance racing, I knew it was going to be difficult to just rock up to a race and do well, particularly a race that happens at the end of the season after everyone has hundreds of race miles in their legs and are strong as heck. To me, this race was a great opportunity to get back into the game and start off strong going into my training for the 2016 endurance mountain bike season. The goal here was to ride strong and only pay attention to my efforts. I didn’t want to get carried away trying to hang with guys that were faster, only to blow myself up and feel awful all day. The start of the race is chaos. This has evolved into a race that gets a ton of strong racers, all vying for position when the gun goes off to be first into the single track. As Anne explained, more than any other race we’ve done, this is one that is truly “make or break” from the start. Anyway, when the gun went off I managed to put myself in a good position and was somewhere within the first 10-15 riders into the single track-right where I wanted to be. The first lap to two laps are fast. My goal here was again, not to blow up, but to ride smooth and strong, setting myself up for a good and consistent day. Coming in off my second lap, though, things started to go sideways. My stomach started doing backflips and as I found myself on the the trail on my third lap I threw up. Not sure what to make of that, as I’ve NEVER had stomach issues in a race, I slurped down some more nutrition and continued on. About 15 minutes later, I threw up again. At this point I realized something really was up. I finished the lap out and stopped in at my pit. I was doubled over, feeling the need to throw up again. I tried to take on some solid food, hoping my stomach would settle but it didn’t. After about 10 minutes or so, I got back on the bike and continued on. My stomach seemed to settle a bit, but as soon as I started pushing the effort in an attempt to make up for the time I was losing, it would act up again. To make matters even worse, it was also not very happy with me trying to eat or drink anything-not exactly the best plan for an endurance race! So for the remaining 3 hours and 30 minutes or so, my race was relegated to a “cruising” type pace. Not exactly what I wanted but I was determined to make the best of it.
The beauty of a multiple lap, 6 hour race is that you can just about see everyone on the course at some point if you want. While my “race” was over, I still had the chance to ride with some friends, cheer them on, and see them achieve their goals. Though I was disappointed not to be able to ride the way I knew I was capable of, it was still a blast being on the bike and on the trail with some of my best mountain bike friends. There are times when you just need to put things into perspective, and this was one of them. There are going to be plenty of other opportunities in the new season to put my head down and ride as hard as I can, but on this day it was all about being out there and just enjoying the ride.
And that’s a racing wrap for this year!… Next exciting thing for us not work / bike related is our trip home to the UK for Christmas with my family and with a few days holiday in Iceland! YAAAAIII 🙂