Friday Mike and I headed up to the Cuyuna area around 2:00. We met Charlie at our campsite. Thankfully Mike brought his camper, its was pretty chilly. We headed out for lap of the the race course. With overcast skies, high wind, and occasional mist it was pretty chilly (36 degrees), not making me excited for the race the next morning.
Saturday morning was pretty chill as the race start wasn't till 9. I was more than ok with that! I was cold at the start but pretty much nailed the clothing for the race. Bibs, long sleeve jersey, undershirt, and a vest. The vest got unzipped 1/4 way and I was good. Well, minus the hands. I have messed up hands...they get cold pretty easily. Once they finally stopped being cold I struggled from keeping them from "falling asleep" or going numb. Not from the cold but riding. However this tends to happen more in the colder months...blood flow. I can usually work through it but it was hard to find a solid chunk of time, during the race, that I could work some blood back into my hands. It wasn't painful just a bit concerning on the downhills. I wasn't sure how much my finger was on the brakes as I couldn't really feel it. But I never crashed! I do believe this was exasperated by my tweaked back not being able to hold be up as much, thus I was resting too much on my hands.
The race itself went well. The start was fast but nothing ridiculous. I was able to enter the single track in the top 10 or higher...I think. They do spit us out onto some gravel roads or snowmobile trails every so often to offer some passing lanes. At the first passing lane I went around a few riders and closed in on the next a 100 yards up. Just before the single track I was able to pass him too. Of course this gassed me and the single track started to get a bit more technical and more hilly. I hate being the guy in the front. I don't want to slow anyone down or screw up. At the next passing section two people passed me as I fought to catch my breath and get some blood flow back into my hands.
Eventually we formed a group of 4. I was riding in 2nd position. Around mile 18 or so (of the first lap...two laps of 25) I pulled over at let the other two behind my go. I was getting gassed pretty good on the climbs and getting a bit clumsy in the single track. My legs were still heavy and tired. The back to back weekends of racing (this was race 3) were catching up to me. They got a gap on me and I was ok with that. The end of the lap dumps us out on to some snowmobile trails. They were a bit soft making the going hard. I caught back up to my group here. Once in the single track on the second lap they started to get a gap on my again. About 45 minutes into my second lap my legs finally stated to come around. I was flowing through the trails much better and able to pound up the hills.
As we rode through the mid point of the second lap I was closing in on my group. I joined them shortly and the lead rider pulled over and let us pass. Soon I was in the lead of my group of four riding my own race. I put a sizable gap on the two chasing riders. On the last few climbs before the trail smooths out and dumps us onto the snowmobile trail I noticed one of the riders closing the gap. I pushed it a bit harder, but not too hard that I would crash. On the snowmobile trail I pushed the pedals as hard as I could. My heart rate was pretty high for me. I kept looking over my shoulder but no one ever came. I crossed the line in what I thought was fourth place. Turns out it was second! I had a friend watching the race that told me I closed the 10 minute gap on the leader from 10 to 4 minutes. I guess I do better at the longer races! More a diesel than a sport car. If it was a 100 maybe I would have caught him...maybe.
Being my first Salsa Oremageddon I was stoked. Such a fun race on a great course with great people. Definitely check this one out.
My back was pretty jacked at the end. Getting off the bike was not a pretty sight. It's on the mend once again.
Yesterday Jim, Matt, and I set out to hit up most of the mountain bike trails in St. Cloud: Quarry Park, Plum Creek, and the North Loop. Yes there is some road time but damn that was fun. We were able to get 35 miles in 3 hours. Super fun day...super fun weekend!
...and on to another week. Dirt Bag this Sunday then I'm done racing for a bit.