Monday, May 21, 2012
UTAH WINS THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!
As hannibal liked to say...I like it when a plan comes together. And truth be told, today was all a plan, put together many months ago....Every detail thought out at mental patient level. From my diet, to training, to my new bike....the goal was to win this race. Everything else was secondary. So by the time today came I had run every turn on this course, every rock, every tree, 1000 times. I certainly wasnt sure that I could win it, but I was sure that I had done every bit of homework possible.
This past week or so with the company of my team I think I did around 8 or so pre ride laps and initially i was pretty bummed about the removal of goat and animal chute. They are classic jungle death trails and once you master them, your ability to gap people in this race can be staggering. I felt that the real hard stuff was missing today and the harder the course is, the better for me. That said, it was still a great course and the road sections were pretty minimal and the majority of the course was my idea of a XC race.
So as I have mentioned many times in the past, Norm has been my go to for training advice and this week I really followed everything to the letter. Soon as I got on the bike this morning to start warming up, I felt as good as I ever have for a race. Norm, Pearl and I rolled around for a full lap to warm up and all systems were go.
Chat with the current king of my class Mike Merrit. He murdered blue and waywayanda with little or no pre riding so I feel I still have a pretty big task ahead of me today. He told me how he had never ridden at jungle before, ever. This usually is not a good formula for JH. Its just not like any other h2h course. Its brutal hell and there is a huge difference between doing everything on the course and doing everything at race pace.
Headed over to the start and lined up. This time we are lined up behind 40-49, 19-29, SS and Pro. Not a huge fan of this. Jungle is not the easiest place to pass at and with the tech section you tear though groups of people in minutes. So anytime, prep time is over...KILL!!!!!
We rocket off, someone stands up and pulls off the front, mike drops in, then Steve, then me. Pace is now death. We hit the fire road leading to the parking lot and the leader pulls off leaving Mike, Steve and I. No idea who is behind me and for the first time in a cat 1 race, I could give a shit...I see that mike is heading for the hard left into warthog at 110mph and since he hasnt ridden it before, this is going to get ugly. He loses the front end into the turn, but recovers quickly. We are now all wheel to wheel as we hit the ST.
Instantly we hit traffic and this is about the worst place to pass. Its monumentally important in the first 10min of a race to NOT let the leader gap you and fall off his wheel. Mike gets a couple of breaks and steve and I are struggling a bit to make our way though. Props to steve though, he was all over everyone and moving everyone out of the way in rapid form. And really I dont like doing this, but nothing was going to stop me from letting go of mikes wheel....thus I did trade a bit more paint that usual today.
Steve lets me by after a few min and I make my way to mikes wheel. The pace is super hard, but im feeling ok. I made a stupid move and passed someone in the weeds that would not move over...this knocked me off my bike for a second and caused my chain to drop. Really dumb and could have ended my day. Steve repasses me and I know have to peg it to catch back up.
Into the rocks we are now well into the 19-29 guys and im really struggling to make my way around and stay with mike. Mike is also have no trouble clearing whatever is in front of him with zero mistakes. Im thinking any tech advantage I might have could be moot....but otterslide is coming.
We hit the base and im close behind, steve right behind me. Mike has to run the start of the second switchback, but a gang of walkers keeps me from passing. I stay close and get ready to attack. Next switch back, mike has to jump off and thats it, I dropped the hammer. Put my head down and blew though the remaining part of the climb like I have done countless times. I see Iggy and let him know that I just got the lead...He cheers me on then sends me by. By the time I hit the tanks, i have opened a gap.
Rip the downhill hard! Pass Kirt who also cheers me on, then soon see Norm up ahead. about this time I look down and in 20min, my ave hr is now 170...this is nuts and will never hold. Im glad I did run into norm when i did because I could really use his level head right now. And Norm delivers as he usually does. I need to switch from insano CX pace, back to xc pace and this is not easy when you are being chased. I stay with him for a bit and try to ease up. We stay together until near the end of lap one, then i pull away a bit.
Hit the lap button
31:35....christ...nearly 5min faster than my fastest pre ride lap...Just goes to show you what race pace does.
Ave HR 169. Highest ever for a lap 1 for me.
I dont blow up like I used to anymore, but it was clear that I just drilled it at level stupid for 30min and now im going to have pay for that. I look back and I cant see anyone that looks to be in my class....so I try to ease up and calm it down. I pass Victor on the pavement and he latches onto my wheel though warthog. Kept it very clean and smooth this time and vic is keeping me pushing. Pass 26er and Eddie V who both give me props and send me on my way.
Otterslide...ug...Like and asshole I catch my bar, then fork on a sapling on the side of the trail and literally have to get off my bike and yank it off of it. Im fuming, angry utah pissed off now. Hate this...stupid mistakes that i assume are costing me tons of time. Anyway, I soon get my shit back together and hit the climb. Im really feeling the pain now...I pass luke and im pretty certain that if there is anyone on my tail, im now powerless to respond. Pace is still ok, but im well into the pain cave.
The downhill and following flats help me out a bit and I try to take it nice and easy for the rest of the lap.
Hit lap 3...lost a couple min, but still a solid 33:30 lap. So back of my head now is 30 or so more min of pain and its over. My legs have now gone from pain to numb and this helps. I make it to warthog still in the clear. Chris Ledonne lets me by at the start and I had a very clean, very smooth ride though this section.
Last time up otterslide and im in massive amounts of pain, but I still keep it clean. I look down at some point and see who I think is Mike Ahearn. Hes a ways down the hill, but im doing the math and I think its maybe 30sec to a min? No idea, but that was it for me. Locked out the fork, stood up and drilled it. I caught falcon on the top of the big drop and tried to stay right with him.
I pass and tell him to stay with me. He sticks right to my wheels and helps me greatly though the final 15min of the race. Yelling at me to pedal whenever I let up a bit and keeping my head in the game. By this time, im quite miserable and im thinking to myself that I never ever want to do another race again....usual stuff. The pain cave is not a fun place. But falcon is keeping my mind occupied. Hit the river crossing and I feel like if i can clean this, its over, I got it! Nailed it perfect! Hit the hill after and im certain that its over.
Roll the tunnel and finally....VICTORY!!!! (thanks for the pic robin!)
So my laps were 31:35, 33:31, 33:35. Not sure how I matched 2-3 together, but whatever.
Finally! Its been since ringwood in 2009 since I got to stand on top of a podium. Since then, 2 brutal years of getting cut to pieces in cat 1. Not that I ever had any thought of giving up, but many times I have thought "these guys are just too fast and you will never get there" So it was a great feeling of payoff today for alot of hardwork.
Cant say enough about my team and the part they played in my win today. Norm helping with training and focusing on what my goal is. Kirt, Bill, Iggy, Woody, Luke falcon, norm......the whole gang out there all winter putting group rides together. The A rides, the short track series...all were key to today. This team really is the best and made up of the best group of people I have ever been a part of.
thanks for the pic iggy...cant wait to see how miserable I look in lukes pics