Sunday, May 06, 2007

First Race of the Season in the Books

We, I guess I should say me and the family headed to Amherst Mass. on Saturday for the Orchard Assault Mountain Bike Race put on by the UMass Cycling Club. The idea for the race was DEA's. Funny, he didn't go. For some reason I did. I had not heard of this event before and had no idea what to expect before arriving.

Car loaded and ready to go

I sent an email to the Race organizer asking for some description of the course and was told that it was about 3 miles long and had about 600 feet of climbing per lap. I started to do some high level math in my head and came up with about 18 miles and 3,600 feet of climbing. That sounded pretty steep and like the climbing might be a bit exaggerated. Either way that was the entire description of the course. I was wondering about my gear setup and whether I had the right one. I was running a 32x20 and thats all I was bringing with me. Once the car was loaded up with the bikes and the family we rolled out at about 7:00AM and got to UMass Amherst about 11:15AM. It was a pretty easy drive and was a little quicker than I thought. My heat was scheduled to start at 12:30PM so I had a little time to get ready and warm up some. They were still running the sport division race as we waited and I asked the race dude how it was going and he said that the course was a little slower than expected and that lap times were running close to 30 minutes. As a result I decided to not go out and pre-ride the course. I was thinking that it would be a bit risky but I was not looking to go too crazy as this was my first race on a single speed, let alone a fully rigid single speed 29er. My goal was to finish. By the time we headed to the start line there was quite a group of expert and semi & pro riders. They gave them a 1 minute lead and my class, the Single Speed Open was a group of four nut jobs like myself. There was one other 29er in the class, but I was the only one running fully rigid. Right before we stared they gave the racers the option of cutting the number of laps from 6 to 5 and because of the slower lap times we agreed.
Starting Line

The race started out climbing a short dirt road to let folks spread out before entering the woods and singletrack. The course was very twisty and turny. It wound around over many a log and then began a sharp descent only to turn right back up. All the elevation that was lost was quickly back in front of you as you began a lengthy series of switch-backs. This foretold the way the rest of this course was. If you were not going up a switch-back you were heading downhill at a pretty good clip.

My first lap came in about 25 minutes or so. I felt OK, but knew that there were 4 more laps to go.
End of First Lap
The second lap just about killed me. I was severely spent at this point. The climbs were getting unridable as I was really suffering. I was getting so that I could not turn the cranks climbing and when I was going down I was just coasting trying to recover.

Problem was there was not enough downhills and too much uphills. The course was designed with so many switch-backs that for a single speed there was no way to carry any momentum. As a result I began to really wonder if I was going to be able to finish this race. Its not like I've never walked during a mountain bike race before though. I ain't proud. So I kept going.

The lap times didn't really fall off that much more and I was sort of just working through it lap by lap. By the fifth lap my legs were cramping and really shot and my upper body was getting very fatigued as I was using everything I had to rock the bike back and forth on the climbs as I was no longer able the climb at all while seated and had to stand quite a bit.

I got passed by a few folks and passed a couple myself. I think they abandoned as I never saw them again. It was a very tough race. Haven't decided if I enjoyed it yet. I was happy to finish and not quit, cause it definitely entered my mind. I hung around for the awards and was very pleased to take 3rd in my class and got a nice UMass Racing sweatshirt.

Lap Times

Lap 1 25.02
Lap 2 27:45
Lap 3 27:47
Lap 4 29:09
Lap 5 28:06

Garmin Edge Summary Data
Total Time (h:m:s) 2:19:03 9:25 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 2:14:40 9:07 pace
Distance (mi ) 14.75
Moving Speed (mph) 6.6 avg. 24.1 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +2,908 / -2,872

Avg. Heart Rate 168 bpm Zone 5.1

Temperature (°F) 62.6°F avg. 62.6°F high
Wind Speed ( mph) NW 9.2 avg. NW 9.2 max.

So it ended up being about 15 miles with a touch under 3,000 feet of climbing. It kicked my ass. I was very pleased with finishing but would have liked to have felt a little better doing it. I guess its early. I saw one other teammate at the race who said hello and chatted with another guy who rode SS with me that does the Pats Peak 24 Hr race so maybe we'll race again this season. All in all it was a good weekend and a lot of fun with a significant amount of suffering. A prelude to the next event, Crank the Kanc.......



weak and feeble said...

Nice work! Way to snag the first podium of the TWAF season.


bluecolnago said...

good job, jj!