This is a two part blog because I have been too busy to finish a blog lately. :) I don't see it letting up any time soon, so be patient and I will try to post updates when I can.
First up is the post that I started last week and never got to finish:
Allison and I opted not to race this weekend so that she could put in some solid training. Of course solid training for her means beating the hell out of me... :)
Saturday while many of the people we know were tackling Vision Quest or Counting Coup, we headed over to Aliso Woods for some time on the dirt. I had veto'd Allison's initial plan to train in the Santa Ana's and cheer on the VQ competitors because I felt our time was better spent on more specific training. (very few races on our calendar include a 1+ hour climb, the only one that comes to mind is Downieville and I am not sure if that is even on our calendar this year!).
Once we finally got rolling (late start after stopping at Rock N' Road) we got in a solid day of very race specific training, talked to some cool people, rode with a relative newbie, and generally had a bitchin' day!
Sunday we did a long road ride from Dana Point to Panikins (Leucadia). It was my first ride on my new bike! New bikes are awesome, new Sworks bikes are the shit!!! We had a stellar day riding the coast and even got to hang out with Steph and Dan and drink a cup of coffee mid ride!
Overall it was a super tough (but fun) weekend and we are doing what we can to set ourselves up for good race fitness in the coming months.
On the way back up the coast I was feeling poetic:
The hum of the tarmac
The whirring of the drivetrain
The whistle of the spokes in the wind.
The sound of the knobs on the tires scratching for traction on the trail tread
The clatter of the chain on a fast descent
The moment of silence and stillness as bike and rider take flight.
The wind rushing past my face
My beautiful wife smiling at me,
astride her bike in the sunshine.
Now on to this past weekend at Fontana:
You have probably already seen the news, and/or read Allison's blog so you know that the weekend was really good for both of us. I will limit my comments on Allison's racing to just saying that I am so proud, and so happy for her, that all the work she puts in is paying off. She has put herself on the podium at a National. That is huge! I am happy that I get to contribute in whatever small ways to her success.
My warm-up was good. I rode the entire course, most of it was with my buddy from the Cougar Class Christina Turner. I gave her some pointers on a couple spots where line selection is critical for a good race and we chatted some. I got back to the venue and they were already lining us up. I rolled to the feed zone and couldn't find stuff (needed my race bottle). I started to panic some and got flustered. Finally after rushing around some I found Allison and frantically removed my warm-up stuff and got my race bottle. DEEP BREATH...
I lined up on the front of the group. This may not be very popular to show up at the last second and line up in the front, but I figured after 5th at Sagebrush and 3rd at Bonelli I earned a spot on the front row. The race started and Gary took the lead with a Celo Pacific guy. I wound up second wheel and happy with my position after the 180. Gary made a mistake and started up the Pro course (we rode that way last year) and that left me in the lead. I felt like a fish out of water! I didn't want to push too hard, but also didn't want to lose spots so I tried hard to moderate my effort. I also didn't want to attack knowing Gary was trying to work back through the group. No reason to kick the dude for a minor mistake. I was still on the front so led up the Elevator. Once again, moderating my effort and making sure that I wasn't going to blow up. I cleaned past the turn and then dismounted, when I did that Gary pushed past me. In a way I was glad to not be on the front any more, also glad I was in position to chase Gary!
Gary had a 10 second gap on me for most of that lap. We were working through traffic already from the 30-34 group that started in front of us. I kept on the gas and didn't panic. I wasn't feeling particularly strong, but I was recovering well and I kept reminding myself to stay sharp, stay focused, no mistakes.
On the flats at the end of the first lap I was sitting on Gary's wheel. I said out loud, "I can't fucking believe it, I am sitting on Gary's wheel in a race!" Gary responded with, "Yeah Justin!" Gary may not be in great shape right now, and he probably rode a couple century rides the day before, but I was actually racing with a dude that used to beat me by 10 minutes!
One notable thing that happened... At the end of lap 1 I wanted to switch to water. My HEED was giving me cotton mouth. As I approached the feed zone I yelled water and held up my bottle. Allison was completely unprepared. I was really disappointed as I really couldn't drink the HEED and wanted to hydrate. In the heat of the moment I yelled, "Fuck you" as I rode by. Dumb Justin over-reacting. I wasn't really mad, just wanted her to feel bad for not being prepared. Needless to say I didn't drink much the first two laps...
The next three laps were all similar. Lots of traffic. The gap would go up or down a bit but no big changes. I had lots of other racers recognize me and cheer me on. I appreciate that! I didn't do much cheering myself, I was in the zone and honestly didn't recognize anyone till after I heard their voices for the most part. I passed a few friends and cheered them on as I passed if I could.
I had a minor crash (very embarrassing) right after the Start/Finish on the flat left hander. I slid out where I had been comfortably drifting before. The crash cost me a few seconds, maybe 5 or 10. I was back up and rolling fast and was only in minor pain (left calf cramped for a short period before the big climb, guessing the trauma messed with the muscle some).
On the last lap I came up on a guy from another AG on the flats. We exchanged positions a couple times for the last 1K or so which was cool. I threw down in the big ring for a long time on the final stretch and he didn't out sprint me. YEAH BOY.
This was definitely my best race to date. My 2nd place in Windham felt pretty empty (the guy that I was racing with for 2nd mechanical'd out) and the guy in first was some ex-pro dude that was gone from the gun. I didn't feel like I had solid competition. This race was different! There are a ton of super fast guys! Super fast guys in all the categories really. I was even more surprised to realize that I was the fifth fastest amateur! CRAZY.
Honestly the course favored me, I got lucky, and I had a good day. One race does not a star make, I will just keep chasing my fast wife and hoping to do well and make her as proud of me as I am of her!
See you at the next race!