Monday, March 30, 2009

It wasn't as bad as it looks,

but it still should have been better....

But first an important message from xkcd:"Police reported three dozen cheerful bystanders, yet no one claims to have seen who did it."

Back to our regularly scheduled blog (grab a drank and snack, it's a long one)...
Bluff Creek Ranch aka Warda. A trail that has been in the race series longer than the 10 years we've been riding. In fact, there used to be two races there every year. Warda can elicit a range of emotions from "I love that trail" to "Nope, never going to ride, let alone race, there again." I lean towards the I Love Warda camp. While not a technical trail (yea!) it does still hold some not-yet-conquered challenges for me.

There had been some trail modification/additions recently done at the ranch by our friends Ryan and Susan (S&S Trail Services LLC), so we were looking forward to seeing what had been done.

We left early enough Friday to get in an extra ride, but due to rain earlier in the week the trails were closed to bikes... bummer. Since the route to the hotel went right through the bustling metropolis of Warda, TX and by the ranch, we stopped anyway to visit with the Doc and Damon Nolan.

Saturday's pre-ride found the trails in great condition. The new cut trail was fun, although there were still a couple of sections that I can't get my head around. Kyle says I think too much when I ride and he's right. For some reason I balk when I see some obstacles. I can ride the same type, or harder, obstacle somewhere else with no problems. It makes no sense; but then again, if you know me it makes perfect sense. Anyway, I found my "scheduled dismount" (aka SD) spots for the race.

I also used the pre-ride to test my set up for the Ouachita Challenge. Two bottles on the bike, a CamelBak (which I haven't worn in years), two tubes on the seat post and air cartridges in the saddle bag. I'm sure I looked over-prepared for a 7 mile pre-ride loop.

Sunday morning was chilly, but the wind had died down from the 30+ mph of Saturday.. By time we started the temps were in the mid-60s. It was turning into a nice day. We had 6 in the class and the finish order wasn't going to be hard to guess... Kim was a no brainer for 1st; there was a toss up between Catherine, Lisa G and Tonya for the next spots, then me, and finally Karie (who had not pre-ridden) finishing up the class.

We started with the Junior and the 50+ Women, so there were 12 of us on the line. It was a long run to the single track - luckily no one took off like a wild banshee, so the group stayed fairly close together until the final run into the woods. Trying to avoid a repeat of Waco, when I never seemed to recover, I was towards the back when we hit the woods oh wait - I'm always in the back!, but I wasn't sure who was behind me. A couple of miles in I hear Tonya asking for the pass didn't know she was back there. I was pushing pretty hard at that point, so I let her by and tried to follow her wheel. After a bit I knew I needed to ease up and recover before I blew up on the first lap. Found a steady hard pace and kept it there.

In the middle of the last SD of the lap I hear "Rider Back!" and it's Lisa G what was she doing behind me?!?. I let her by, but end up catching and passing her back up before the end of the lap. Coming up to the end of the lap I spot Tonya up ahead. What's up with that? I had planned to take a bottle between the 1st & 2nd (of 3) laps. But seeing Tonya ahead and the gap closing I kinda forgot about that little detail... my bottle was empty and I was supposed to pick up a fresh one. I come up to the feed zone and Lauren holds out my bottle, I shake my head "no". Good thing she wasn't wearing sunglasses because I saw the puzzled look on her face as she held the bottle out again. Oh sh...oot! Too late to slow down, I come to a stop and drop the empty bottle and take the full one from her. As I start going again I get a push from Zach (thanks!!!) and off I go to catch Tonya... again. I catch back up and just sit on her wheel through the lap. The lead Pro/Cat1 men start catching us, but in most cases it's in a good spot and we can all share the trail.

Coming up to Gas Pass (which contains a SD), I look over my shoulder and see some more of the men coming up. I tell Tonya to pick it up hoping we can get in and out of the section before the guys catch us. She tells me that she goes slow on the downhill part, well so do I - but I don't want to get run over. I sprint past her so she can be the one that the guys have to get around. I time it right, just as I'm past the SD point the lead rider catches me. I let him by, get back on my bike and am clear of the section before the rest catch up. Tonya catches back up and passes me at the Mule Trace SD point, but I'm OK with that since it looks like I'll be able to catch back up without a problem.

Get back on the bike, get on Tonya's wheel as we go through one bermed corner, around the next, then head to a short power climb... sweet... no CRAP! Tonya stops on the climb!!! Double CRAP - I'm stuck at the bottom while she gets off and pushes her bike up; which means that I am also off my bike... grrr. I get to the top and get going again and am Tonya's wheel before we get to PayDirt Bridge (a climb disguised as a wooden suspension bridge). One last killer climb to go. Tonya calls back that she can't clear the climb, I have problems with it too, so I stay were I'm at. I then find out that I can make it further up the climb than she can when she comes to a stop while I'm still climbing... this is quickly becoming a bad dream. This section of trail is on the side of a hill and not very wide, so it's not like I can just ride past her off the trail, especially since she and her bike are across more than half of the trail. I get off my bike and step around her and her bike and hustle up the rest of the climb. My goal for the last lap is to stay in front of Tonya.

Last lap - I'm in 3rd and feeling pretty good. Feel like I'm keeping a steady pace. Not long into it I hear "I'm coming for you Kathy Johnson!" I look across and through the trees and there's Andrew N, chasing me down. So I call out "Come and get me, big boy!" Doesn't take long before he does. He tells me to grab his wheel and he'll show me how to ride single-track. HA! If I could only hang on to it more than 5'.

Getting to the last couple miles of the lap I knew there were two hard climbs to get up and over. The first one is a long wide jeep road climb, and it usually beats me on the third lap. This year was no exception. The last 30' my legs were starting to cramp, so I got off to push up to the top and since the final SD point was around the corner I just kept pushing. As I get up to the top and head to Mule Trace I see Lisa G cresting the climb (at least now I know how she was making time up on me). She asks if I'm OK as she pedals by and I'm still pushing. Grrrr.

The legs are feeling a bit better as I get back on after the last SD point and I head for the berms and power climb. Swing left, swing right and up... no CRAP! I'm is too easy of a gear and spin out... double CRAP! AGAIN Off the bike to get to the top and here comes Tonya, and of course this time she clears the climb. Back on the bike and go chasing... AGAIN I catch up to Tonya a little before PayDirt Bridge and she offers to let me by. I guess she doesn't hear me and we are both approaching the bridge at the same time... too bad there's only room for one and I'm the one that gets squeezed out. Grrr. Off the bike when I shouldn't be, push up and over. At least Tonya is waiting for me instead of just taking off... which is cool. Tonya's in front when we get to that last climb and Tonya stops before I have to, so it's off the bike again. Tonya's apologizing and I'm just "let's go!". Up to the top and hope I have enough to catch her in the last mile. I put my head down and pedal, but the legs just aren't turning the pedals fast enough. The gap between Tonya and I just doesn't seem to change no matter how hard I try to go faster. At the end it's Tonya, then me 8 seconds later.
Place Name Team Time








Lisa G Bikesport/ION



Team Hammerhead



Matrix RBM





At the end of the race I felt like:
So, while I did not have the best race results... I did have a good race.

Next weekend is the Ouachita Challenge.

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