Monday, March 26, 2007

Chickasaw Trace AMBC Recap

What a weekend. We left Friday morning at 6am and pulled into the park in Tennessee around 2:45 TN time (1 hr behind). Set up the camping stuff and then went for a ride. The trail was fast and flowy, just what my body needed. My adrenaline was flowing and endorphins were popping out like crazy. The first trail ride of the year, and it was a good one. The loop starts on a gravel road with a loose gravel switchback onto the paved road. Once on the road, you ride down a little bit before you shoot down a screaming fast downhill, into an open field and then on the singletrack. The trail had a good amount of rocks and root strewn throughout, but was very manageable. Later on in the trail was where most of the climbing was. You would climb, then decend on very fast, long, curving downhills. It was a fun loop and just what I needed after a long winter.

Saturday was more of the same. Took a pre-ride, but at a quicker pace than the day before. Hung out at the tent for most of the day relaxing and enjoying the 85 degree weather. Made a nice chicken linguine dinner and called it a night around 9pm.

Sunday was race day. My race was not until 12:30, so I had to sit around all morning. It felt like forever, but finally the time came. We lined up and 26 of us started in the Expert 19-29 group. The pace was extremely fast off the line to say the least. The group safely got down the steep dowhill without any crashes (there were nasty ones w/ multiple people in Sport). Since there has not been any rain in TN in 3 weeks, the clay base was very dry and dusty. My mouth was coated, and my lungs were burning. I had a quick lap, and knew I wouldn't be able to keep that pace. I was riding good, but felt like I couldn't carry much speed through the downhill corners. By lap 3, I was able to go through them better without as much braking. Just more trail riding and that should be taken care of. At the end of lap 1, I was feeling pretty good, but fairly hot.

Lap 2 came and went uneventfully. The lap was a few minutes slower, but I was still keeping a good pace. With a mile and a half to go in the 9 mile lap, I started getting some chills. I quickly drank the rest of my GU20 to try and stay hydrated and replenish the salt. It was hard telling where I was in the race, because there are so many people and other groups right after.

On lap 3, my body started to slow down. In the first half of the course where the trail is not as hilly, I could not keep my heart rate up. I was pushing hard, and my legs weren't even burning, but I could not keep a higher pace. I think it was a mixture of chasing too hard on lap 1 and most of lap 2, the 90 degree heat, and some dehydration. I drank my bottles, but it wasn't enough. The bottles were also warm, so I was not getting the cooling factor there. I am a hot weather guy, but going from 40 to 90 and full effort taxed my body a bit. My savior came in the middle of a scorching hot field where a guy was handing off cold waterbottles. I chugged the entire 16oz bottle and felt better. My pace picked up a bit there and I was riding better once i got to the hills. That was just at the right time, because I was craving a cold bottle and a cold pear to eat. Yeah, I am strange. By the end, I still had a bit in the tank. I passed a guy by outsprinting him on the final grassy climb into the finish. At the end I was hot and tired. The legs felt great, but riding 3 laps of the much rougher than MI course put much more demand on the entire body. I ended up 12th out of 26 and got a huge payout of $6.00!!! Hey, it payed for my waffle on the way home:-)

The new Kona Hei Hei Supreme bike worked good. It rides really well am I am still shocked at how well the Fox RP23 rear shock works. That rear travel sure did help down there. I could tell on day one that having the extra 2.5" of travel made the bike hook up much better.

Overall, it was a good weekend of riding, racing, and enjoying the weather. It was a late night coming home, but well worth it. I had a good time and it is fun to see the other competition nationwide and compare. I felt pretty good for March.

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