Tapering is my least favorite part of training. Tapering is when you reduce volume but maintain intensity so you are fresh and fit for a key event. Since Cohutta is next Saturday, this week and next will be tapering weeks. So this week I raced the CAT 3/4 crit at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds and the Charlotte MTB series at Beatty. Saturday will be Boone-Roubaix - more on that later.
Dixie Classic - a great place to start road racing or for mid-week intensity. Also, it's pretty fun! The course is wide and flat. Nothing technical. It favors the big sprinters, which also means it's great opportunity to work on your sprint if you're not a sprinter. I managed to chase down a break or 2, try an attack and eventually position myself for what ended up being a full field sprint. I came in 6th. Which I felt was a valiant effort ...that I would pay for the next day.
What I learned:
If you are racing to win you need to keep an eye on the front. Breaks often occur and you need to be prepared to respond.
There is almost always wind at the fairgrounds. To optimize your shelter in the pack roll into the corner easy (most folks seem to corner pretty cautiously most of the time), then get on the pedals early and be right on the wheel in front of you coming out of the corner into the wind so you don't have to close a gap into the wind.
Charlotte MTB series - I paid for Tuesdays race a bit on the trails of Beatty. Actually, I got my butt kicked pretty big but I achieved my objectives. Last year I raced Sport, this year I jumped up to Expert in favor of racing the longer distances. I finished in under 1:30 and did not finish last. The Superfly was awesome. I usually dread the rough and rooty trail that is Beatty. My full-suspension 29'er Superfly rolled right over the rough stuff and kept me a bit more in control of things. The only thing I would maybe change would be the front tire. Some of the sandy sections were a bit sketchy with the 29-3.
What I learned at Beatty:
1. All the locals know the trails well. If you don't you are giving up time.
2. Race a fairly soft shock setting at Beatty. There are lots of roots, no big hits.
3. Lock your fork at the start. There is a long, smooth sprint across the dam into the singletrack. Everyone hammers.
4. Unlock your fork in the singletrack. You'll figure it out soon if you forget...
Thursday was hill repeats and Friday will be an easy ride in preparaton for Boone Roubaix
See you on the trails!