Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trans-Sylvania Prologue

It's finally starting to sink in that I'm in Trans-Sylvania.  This year is quite a bit different than last year.  I've got more support, more experience, and some pretty good endurance racing results recently.  But with it comes higher expectations.  Admittedly the extra pressure is pretty much self-imposed, but it is still very real.

With a rest day on Friday and full day of driving Saturday it was good to get back on the bike again today.  I felt good enough to do a full lap recon of the 12.5 mile prologue a couple of hours prior to my start time. 

The prologue is a time trial stage where riders are sent off at 30 second intervals with no drafting allowed.  I would be the first rider in my class to go off - right behind THE Keith Bontrager who is racing in the 50+ solo category.

I received the 3-2-1 countdown, clip-in and take off.  I remind myself not to hammer too hard early but it feels really good to be hammering on the bike again.  The first section of the course winds thru the scout camp with some loose trail with rocks and roots and tight corners.  I pass three riders here.  Then it's on the road and place for me to put the hammer down.  I pass a few more riders before heading into the next single track section.  This next section is very, very tight and twisty.  It's also wet in spots from recent rain and so covered with a canopy trees that it's really too dark for sunglasses.  It's here where I catch team and duo riders, meaning I have to pass riders in pairs.  Mostly they do well to clear the trail for me, but there just isn't much room for them to go.  I expend a lot of extra energy with the short bursts of power required to make the pass.

And then the climb.  There is one major climb that is always at least slightly technical, but certainly should have been rideable.  I get impatient following riders and end up off the bike briefly a couple of times.  I remind myself to calm down and fall in line behind the leading 50+ solo competitor.  When we get near the top, he lets me by.  The time spent pacing has paid off well and I'm re-energized for the next section of trail which is mostly flowy single track.  I get into a nice sweet spot rhythm and the miles seem to just click by.  I'm riding well and it feels good.

The flowy single track turns into rocky single track, then rocky single track bordered to the right by a very imposing 6' electric fence.  Then it turns sandy then sandy with rocks.  And then it's back to the scout camp.  Double track turns into a rocky, muddy, slippery mess that winds up and down thru the woods.  Fortunately this section is short.  One muddy climb, cross a bridge, do one lap around the pond and cross the Red Bull finish line.

I clocked in at 1:01 which was good enough for 4th place on the day.  I was disappointed to miss the podium, but felt good about placing ahead of last years overall winner.  Tomorrow will be a long day.  Plus there have been thunderstorms this evening including a lightning strike to the local cable company.  Which normally wouldn't bother me, but it meant listening to the Coca-Cola 600 for awhile instead of watching it...

I worked pretty hard today.  Time to get some rest for tomorrow's 9:30 am start.

See you on the trails!

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