Hitting the Wall

Me and Longshanks made the long drive to Ellijay over the weekend for the 7th installment of the Georgia State MTB Championship Series. The Event was held at “Falling Waters” which is a planned gated community on 2,000 acres. The place was beautiful with a lodge, giant lake and great views of the mountains in the distance. We pull in around 2:00 on Saturday for our pre-ride. The temperature was a cool 77 degrees (are you kidding me, it’s July).

We gear up and hit the course. The start takes you 1.5 miles up a paved road. Two minutes into the ride, I’m in my small chainring and small cog and my heart rate is at 90% max. This road was steep and painful. This is a pre-ride and I’m working too hard. Fifteen minutes later we made it to the top of the climb and finally hit some doubletrack. You get a chance to recover a little before hitting some little false flats. About the time you have recovered from the road climb they give you a nice little doublletrack climb. LS powers up but again I am in small/small and just about hitting max heart rate. I make it to the top, stop, and try to get my breath. Damn that little hill hurt. Finally, some downhill that you can flow. Then, suddenly, I see 3 arrows all pointing down (the sign of danger ahead). What came next was the scariest downhill I have ever ridden. This thing had washouts, ruts a few rocks and headed straight down. You dared not let go of the breaks. The few times I did let go I could not believe how fast the speed built up. LS was just ahead of me and about half way down this 2 mile or so decent when he hit the ground. I swerve as not to run over his skull. We stop and wonder what the weird smell is. We soon realize that our brakes are smoking. We get back on the bikes and finish the decent. The rest of the ride is easy. Some hiking trails and then pop out into a field that has some small climbs. 5.5 miles and 44 minutes later and were done with the pre-ride.

I knew Sunday would be tough. I am no climber and am at least 10 pounds heavier than I should be. My legs felt heavy from the previous days efforts and I’m dreading doing the road climb (twice). LS has the early race and takes off. He comes through both laps in 3rd place. The first two guys (sandbaggers) have left the rest of the field behind. LS finishes in third but he is a little disappointed in his race.

I have the second wave so I’m off around 11:40. Eleven guys in my class and we are headed up the road climb. I feel like everyone in my class has passed me going up. I catch and pass most before the singletrack. I believe I was in the woods in 4th place. Unfortunately I have a mechanical and have to get off the bike to fix it when two guys pass me. I jump back on and catch those two. I get to the doubletrack climb and end up walking half of it. Bomb the downhill and get ready for the next lap. At the start of number 2 I knew I was in 3rd place. NB checked out early but I had my eye on the 2nd place guy. He stayed in my sight all of the lap but I could never get right up on him to get a chance to sprint it out at the end. I finish 3rd about 30 second behind 2nd place guy.

Considering how I felt going up the climbs, I guess I should feel good about the 3rd place finish, but truly I do not feel that I am riding very good lately. Most of my issues appear to be more mental than physical. One more race to go in the series which is Helen in 3 weeks. I’m holding onto 2nd place overall with the 3rd place guy on my heels only 2 points behind. I’ll need to pay close attention to him in Helen.

So what did the two older guys learn while traveling alone to a MTB race? Pinot Noir goes best with cheese and crackers when served at room temperature.

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