Sunday, June 14, 2009

First in Flight

No we didn't travel to the home of the pioneers who made the first manned airplane, but we did participate in our first race that we boarded an airplane instead of the Black Max.

First step to flying with the bikes was to figure out how to pack them. I tried to research options but there was lots of contrary opinions out there. I wound up spending a ridiculous amount of money on a pair of TryAll3 hard bike boxes. It hurt my wallet really bad, but the idea was to keep the bikes from being damaged in transit. I spent a ton of time figuring out how to get all the stuff packed in the boxes. I probably did more than necessary, but the bikes did arrive nearly unscathed (Allison's seat stay has a mark on it from a hub that managed to work it's way through a foam pad). Fair warning... if you are going to fly with bikes expect to get killed on baggage charges. We only checked the bikes and had to pay $100 each, each way ($400 total)

The bike boxes presented another issue once on the ground. Fitting them in a rental vehicle!!! Somehow I managed to cram both of them into the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but I had to put the seats all the way forward (the underside of the dashboard took all the skin off my right knee from rubbing while operating the brake and gas) and drive Ace Ventura style as my forehead was hitting the windsheild!

After arriving at our hotel I unpacked the bikes (after extracting myself from the vehicle) and built them up so that we could rush over to check in for the race and get some course recon done. We lucked out and were the last couple of people to check in before they closed up shop. It was super cool for Allison to get her ProXCT number plate. She didn't get to ride with #10 plate back east (major bummer) but she had #13 for this one!

The course was in a nice park right by Cheyanne Mountain (yes, the one that houses NORAD). The first thing we did was to ask around about the start of the Pro race. The beta that we got from a race official was that the start of the race was going to include a hill climb and a bit of single track and then connect back into the course and go through the Start/Finish to start Lap 1. We pre-rode the section described and then did two loops of the course. The course was fun, not super technical, but it had a couple short HAB spots (for all but trials riders) and enough little rock sections to keep you on your toes in hypoxia. The laps were right at 5 miles and about 700ft of climbing. After the two loops (the second of which was in the rain) we headed back for dinner and bike prep (and finally bed).

Saturday (yeah that's right, racing on Saturday for a change) we were up and at the venue an hour before my race (9:45AM start). We were instructed to line up by age groups (19-29 in front, 30-39 behind them, and so on) and then told that we were doing 3 laps. THREE LAPS????? WTF??!! I have not raced many "Nationals" but it seems like total idiocy to find out on the line that the race has changed from 4 laps to 3. No way to tell the people in the feed zone. Stupid. Oh and by the way, we are doing a mass start with all CAT1 men. FACK. So we have probably 60+ CAT1 men sprinting the whole 40 yards into the funnel which by the way was a bridge (no cheating around this and making it wider!) Cluster fuck.

We get the GO and I am getting pushed and shoved from both sides. I was working hard at trying to hold position without crashing myself or others, knowing that I need to work towards the front fast (the course had very few passing opportunities). As we passed through the feed zone and started climbing I was solidly positioned. I passed a couple guys, and got passed by a couple guys, but was probably in the top 20 or so.

The scene that unfolded was just pretty lame for me. My legs had punch which was a good thing because we were yo-yo'ing horribly off every corner and obstacle, but my body just wasn't getting enough oxygen to maintain power output. Riders in front of me were decelerating excessively into corners or obstacles and letting gaps form, but then were blocking passes. I let my emotions get control of me and went for an inside pass around a corner and the rider I was passing pushed me off course. Stupid move on my part. So now quite a few riders had gone by and I had no idea where I was at. I wound up behind a younger rider that was struggling badly with the rocks. He was a strong climber but he was holding me up badly on the descents and obstacles. He created a big gap between us and the lead pack. To make matters worse I just couldn't put out the sustained power to pull ahead on the climbs so he was trying to pass me on the non-tech stuff. My last lap felt the best and I would have liked to have gone the full distance.

Despite the altitude problems I was having I put forth my best effort and wound up 7th with a time of 1:25 or so (I don't know what the race clock had me at because times weren't listed).

I supported Allison for her race and I think she suffered a lot of frustration as well. I was pretty angry that after call-ups they did a neutral start and then re-lined up in a different location and she went from the 2nd row to the 5th row because she didn't realize she had to battle for start position on the neutral start. She wound up 19th on the day which is quite a few spots behind what we expected. Hopefully the next block of training does something for both our race form.

Sunday we rode some great trails with typically awesome Colorado scenery. I had a great time and always love riding in Colorado! After the ride we drove up into a snow storm on Pikes Peak. Pretty neat to be getting dumped on this time of year! We weren't able to drive to the top as they turned us around at the 16 mile mark (it is 19 to the top).

The bikes are all packed and we are ready to head out to the airport as I type this. I was hoping to go for a hike at "7 falls" but we may save it for a future trip.

Happy Monday!!


Stephanie said...

Flying with bikes is fun, ain't it? ;) We flew to W. VA with 3 bikes once...ugh.

In any case, I'm sure it was a learning experience, despite the frustrations. It hurts when you are a stronger technical rider who gets stuck on a singletrack course like that. I feel your pain.

7th (though I know you should have been on the podium) is respectable anyway.

Luke said...

looks like a blast bro!

Ryan Weeger said...

Good job to both of you. Despite all the racing hickups and stuff, Colorado does look pretty awesome!