Sunday, April 7, 2013

6 Hours of Warrior Creek

The 6 Hours of Warrior Creek race kicked off my endurance racing season today.  I had done well in a 50 mile roubaix-style race last weekend, Love Valley Roubaix, and a criterium race on Tuesday at Dixie Classic Fairgrounds, but the 6WC would be a good indicator of early season endurance racing form. 

I've had a cold all week and wasn't sure how I'd be feeling at the start.  I could ride pretty well at endurance and tempo pace, but really start to feel bad at short, hard efforts.  My conservative strategy was to focus on racing a smooth tempo pace, being conscience to always be pushing at tempo pace, but trying not to go harder than that.

A hard day of rain on Thursday left a few residual slick spots for Saturdays race.  I was on some pretty fast rolling low-knob, no-side-knob tires so I had my concerns.  Lap 1 went well, I got a reasonably good start, and worked my way thru the field as gaps opened up.  I passed riders on three separate occasions that either slid off course or crashed.  I made sure to stay focused on the trail surface and to ride smooth.

I blew thru the feedzone as planned to complete Lap 1.  Lap 2 is a little less congested.  I start to mentally describe the sections of each mile marker.  Mile 1 is a bit of short, stand-up climbs, mile 2 is like 1 with bigger climbs.  Mile 3 is kinda hard.  A good place to push to make up time.  Mile 4 is a recovery section - a lot of fast sections. Mile 5 is the "magic forest section" and into the open field.  Mile 6 is the bridge over-look.  Mile 7 is the swithback climbs.  Mile 8 is rocks then climbing.  Mile 9 is rocks.  Mile 10 is the old start/finish area.  Mile 11 is the road crossings.  12 is the OVT intersection then the start/finish.

Somewhere past Mile 10 on Lap #2 I managed to clip a pedal which somehow resulted in me flying over the handlebars onto the downhill side of the trail.  I had enough air time to wonder just how/where I would land.  And then with a "thump" and a "crack" I land on my back and my helmet hits the ground hard.  I feel Ok, pick my helmet visor up, put my chain back on and carry on.  Shifting would never be the same again, tho.

I botch the end of the lap 2 feed zone stop.  First, I couldn't get the pills out of my little zip-lock bag, then I drop my Hammer bar on the ground.  I rolled off and forgot to remove my head sock like I had planned as the day warmed-up, so I stopped to remove it after trying unsuccessfully to pull it out from under my helmet while riding.  Then had to stop again on the trail after I realized I forgot to re-clip my helmet strap.  Maybe I hit my head harder than I thought...

On lap #3, I'm pushing a little extra hard to make up for my lap #2 crash when the front wheel slides out and I center up a tree.  There is a nice green mark in the center of my number placard to commemorate the occasion.

So, now I'm on a bike with a front derailleur that rubs really hard when in the big ring, but does OK in the small ring (where I decide to leave it for the duration of the race), but I can only get 4 or 5 of the rear cogs - and those shifts are performed somewhat grudgingly, and a left (front) brake lever that is turned somewhat awkwardly up.  I have a second bike waiting in the pits, but don't feel it's worth taking the time to stop and switch the number.  It looks like I'm only going to do 5 laps.  I can hang on for another lap and a half...

I roll thru the feedzone without stopping to start lap 4.  I'm pretty used to the bike now.  I miss having a big ring sometimes, but the trail has picked up grip and I'm pretty dialed on what my tires like in the corners. It's become pretty clear to me now that I'm only going to get 5 laps, so I'm pushing the pace a bit.  I'm passing a lot of people and feeling good.

At the completion of lap 4, my wife has arrived from work, and is ready with a water bottle hand-up, so I don't even have to slow down.  Sweet!  On lap 5, most of the people I am passing are moving at a rather reduced pace.  I'm still feeling good.  The earlier pacing has paid off.  I count through the mile markers as I've been rehearsing all race long.  When I get to the line, the clock reads 5:47.  Seven minutes past the cut-off time to do another lap.  Which is just fine, because I wasn't fueled to be able to another race-pace lap.

So after a quick shower and some recovery the wife tells me I finished 21st with 4 laps.  We have the timing and scoring reviewed and they correct my laps to 5 completed which puts my 2nd.  A good day.  Morgan Olson would take the win.  Kudo's to him, as he made the cut-off time and did 6 laps.

The awards were extra sweet with a great cash payout and lots of swag!  The weather was great and the trail is just plain fun to ride and race on.  This race continues to get bigger and better every year!  Thanks BMCC and all the trail and race volunteers!

See you on the trails!

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