Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Trans-Sylvania stage 4

Stage 4 was a remote start at Raystown Lake - about a 1:00 drive from the Scout camp.  This is a super fun stage, and perfect for a middle of the week boost.

Most of the course is on machine cut, fast, flowy roller coaster single track.  With the over night storms (again) there was the added complication of some very slick spots.  Some would say muddy.

Since passing was a bit more difficult today, they started us in groups.  The pro's rolled off first then all of us solo masters racers.  We started up a short paved climb then immediately into fast single track.  It was kind of unnerving going fast on some treacherous trails following so closely behind other riders.  So when we get to a short but steep double track climb I put forth the extra effort to clear the group I'm riding with. 

...and the white-knuckle riding begins.  Many of the corners are slick, but bermed.  I would roll into the corner, the whole bike would drift wide then gain grip at the edge and I could rail the corner.  Usually.  The descents were an amazing roller coaster ride.  It seems every downhill was designed to get air on.  Often they required a precise balance of speed and control to ensure landing in time to make the next potentially slick corner.  It was probably the most intense riding I have done.  With the trees whizzing by on either side I really had to stay focused on the trail ahead.

When I got to the aid station at the start/finish line it seemed like everything was going in slow motion because of the previous high speed intense riding.  I kind of botched the stop, but manged to get everything I needed and headed back up the road for lap 2.  I'm riding solo now, so it's hard to know how I'm doing.  I try to hammer the climbs until I feel like I can't continue, but then I roll the descents, recovering as I go and I feel energized for the next climb.  The cycle continues from feeling completely cooked to full of energy.  As I start the final descent to the finish line I see a rider in my class ahead of me.   ...and he sees me.  I have enough energy left to hammer it to the finish. does he.  And he's got a head start.  So he comes in 4th and I come in 5th.

A good day today.  I pulled back some time on several competitors and moved up a couple of spots on GC - into 8th.   It'll take a pretty heroic effort to make top 5 in GC, but I didn't come here to ride tempo.

I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be here and for all the support I have received from friends and family.  Truly Blessed am I.

See you on the trails!

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