This morning, I took part in the first race of my ’08 season. As I mentioned in my last blog entry this was done in part to gauge my fitness for the upcoming Garda marathon and just because I wanted to do it. Yes… I have to be truthful there.
So, I’ll get results out of the way right off the bat and head on to the meat of the matter. I placed 46th (if you look at my time not where they placed me) out of something like 160 in my class. They don’t seem to have overall results posted, but I’ll keep checking.
O.K., the meat of the matter. Kera and I left (she didn’t race) to ride up to the Olympic Park at about 8:00 this morning as my class and distance were to leave in two groups starting at 8:50 & 8:53. I left in the second group as I didn’t feel like fighting my way to the front of 700-1000 people. By doing this, it meant that I was in the heart of the newbies instead of with more of the seasoned veterans. Looking back, it was probably a big mistake on my part.
The city had blocked off the streets with signs for not only our bike marathon but a running marathon as well. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize what they were dealing with and made a lot of “pinch points” on the course while in the city. Everytime that we got close to one of these areas things got really squirrelly.
What else? Oh… they’d placed cones in various places through the city but no one had any idea why. At one point, while hundreds of us where rolling though the English Garden and rounding a turn, suddenly there was a bus coming at us. Surprise! We then figured out what the cones were for.
About 25 km in to the race I saw some course tape lying on the side of the gravel/dirt road that we were on. I assumed that it was to block that turn off and a hiker had broken it (hikers don’t like most cyclists here either). Well…. no! That was there to actually mark the corner. Again, a group of maybe 100+ seemed to figure it out simultaniously and we all did a U-Turn and headed back toward the tape. That cost us 20 minutes and 6-10 km.
Immediately after that, we hit a huge bike traffic jam. When we, finally, made our way up to the front it turned out to be a 1 bike width bridge that we had to cross as the canal was too deep and too cold to cross with the bikes.
That was the last major foible, short of the roadies that aren’t able to handle a mountain bike on anything other than pavement. As an added bonus, they seemingly can’t make it up a hill without falling over in front of you either. This is where I picked off a lot of people. Give me a climb baby! It’s definitely something that I’ve learned to love while singlespeeding here and in the Alps. I’m a damn good climber. Woohoo… I have at least one good skill on a bike.
After all this it was nearly all flatland gravel, dirt or pavement for the remaining kilometers. I honestly don’t know how many actually. One place the long course was listed as 100 km. Then it was listed as 90 or 87 km depending on where you saw the listing. On my speedometer (with getting lost as well) I have just shy of 72 km. Are you with me? No, I have no actual idea how far we travelled.
Anyway, the end of the race found us riding up and over the Olympic mountain three times in different directions. It was here that I realized that I was in danger of cramping so I downed as much of the fluid that I had with me and that seemed to help along with spinning vs. mashing. We then rolled in to the Olympic stadium and crossed the timer.
They then fed all of us pizza and all the fruit, cucumbers and cobbler that we could stomach. As always, we also got all the Alcohol-Free Weissbier that we could drink. I had a bit of each and headed home.
How do I feel now? Pretty good actually now that I realize that I’m actually 12 places higher than where they originally placed me according to me time. I also know that I need to do some pretty heavy training before Garda and especially before I do a week of climbing starting in Garda and ending up on the other side of the Dolomites for a Cross-Dolomiten 29’er Tour in July. That’ll be 270 km and 10,800 vertical meters in 6 days.
Thanks to Ergon for making really great gloves (not yet available Stateside). I really wish that I’d had some Ergon grips on my bike for this race and an Ergon pack would maybe have been good too for having enough fluid. The Maxxis Ignitors worked great as always, especially pumped up to 42 psi for road/gravel/dirt use.
I’ll say it again… the Pactimo uniforms are fantastic! I’ve not got even a hint of a saddle sore after sitting and hammering for that long. Thanks gang for making stellar uniforms. Lastly, I’d have to say, in spite of the local impression of 29’ers, the big wheels had a lot to do with how I did on Sunday. Next time, I’ll move closer to the front to avoid some of the problems and see how I do then.
Official photos are in the works. I’ll post ’em soon.