Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grampian Challenge race report

I've been looking forward to this race ever since I found it here in the race calendar link.
Got up at 4am and was out the door at 4:30 am for the 3 1/2 hr drive. All week I kept looking at the weather and radar report hoping it would get better but it never did. I decided to go anyway. It rained most of the week there but not like here and Michigan soil being sandy I thought it  would be ok. My drive on the turnpike was terrible, at times it was raining so hard I was doing 45mph and I could hardly see in front of me. Doubts started creeping in to my head, I stopped at the last rest stop before hitting I 75 to check the weather radar before deciding whether to keep going or not. I sat there drinking pumpkin spice coffee eating bagels and banana nut bread from Starbucks looking at the weather. I'm the only one in the cafeteria area and I'm sitting in a far corner by myself when some numnut sits behind me to drink his coffee and eat his greasy burger for breakfast. You know, I'm sitting way out of the way and this guy has to go out of his way to sit behind me. I wouldn't have been so mad if it was only that, but the problem was I almost threw up the coffee and bagel I had just ingested, that how bad he stunk. I got up before I goy any sicker and got in the car and decided to keep going since it seemed to be clearing north of Detroit. The roads were almost dry when I arrived at Addison Oaks park but a mist was in the air and the wind was howling with mid 40's temps, cold very cold. As I parked I ran into Jason from XXC magazine, nice guy down to eart and likes talking about bikes and races, what's not to like.  Signed up, got dressed and did a little bit of a warm up. I'm bloated with the coffee, bagel and nut bread I ate a couple hrs before and I'm not feeling very good. The race starts on a wide open field with experts, elite and 39-40 taking off first, 3 minutes later the rest of the field is off. From wide open grass field to a paved bike path and then double track with a few short climbs. I was pleasantly surprised as how good the double track was, lots of traction very little mud and fast. By the way the course was about 75% gravel roads and the rest split between double track and about 4-5 miles at the end of flowy, smooth fast beautiful single track. The first 25 miles I fought my body, I felt my legs were locked and I couldn't get any speed going. I kept fighting the feeling of despair as riders pass me like I was standing still. Somehow after 25 miles I got going where I was passing everybody that had left me for dead a few miles before. Long gravel roads with false flats is what I enjoy as I spin my way at a good pace and other riders are trying to power their way. Many tried to hold my wheel and I would just spin faster and ride them off my wheel, I was time trialing every section of gravel roads and feeling good. Did I mentioned it was windy, 25-30 miles and hr and it seemed it was a head wind the entire race. with 7 miles to go we hit a double track and I'm following a single speeder and we took the wrong turn and climbed  a short steep road to nowhere, we ended up losing about 5 minutes and it cost me at least 2 spots at the end. We turned around and start hauling down the trail, I have nothing to lose so I'm leaving everything on the trail. We hit the single track and I keep hitting it hard, finally I dropped my two companions and keep pushing as hard as I can, my legs are finally starting to cramp with the effort but I keep on pushing it harder after every turn and short climbs, finally out of the st an back to the paved path and open field we started on, I looked at the clock and it said 2:43 even with the 3 minutes we waited to start after the first wave. Got cleaned up went to check the results and I eneded up 7th. out of 22 in the 50 plus and the official time was somewhere in the 2:47's go figure. Getting lost cost me a few spots but it was my own fault for following and not taking charge myself. I made up most of the time in the last 15 miles when I started feeling better but at the end it wasn't enough, I had lost to much time at the beggining.
Overall, I had a great time, liked the race and the course and probably will do it again next year. Next year, I'll now to stay on top of my training, the last 3 weeks I really didn't do much and I could feel it in my fitness.
I was very dissapointed in the fact that there was nothing to eat or drink at the end of the race, at least I didn't see anything.
Looking forward to the last long organized ride of the year, The Red Flannel Metric in November.

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