Monday, June 23, 2008

Heartland - Truman's Big Love Holy Moly!

When I first saw the course map, I knew it was going to be gruesome, and not in the way I prefer. I'm not the fittest guy out there, so I prefer very technical courses (even a bit greasy) that show-case my ability to ride fast over slippery technical terrain, as aposed to just putting out max watts with max traction. The course they chose for yesterday's race was as fast as it comes. The dirt was perfectly tacky. We started on the usual grass field and quickly lined-up on the first little single-track climb. Shadd Smith skipped the Austin Texas round of the USA Crits series to contest his 1 mtb race for the year. He's obviously super fit and this course was tailor made for him. He quickly set the pace on lap 1 with Cameron Chambers, myself, Dave Breslin, Chris Ploch, Aaron Elwell tucked in (literaly) on his wheel. The balance of the Expert field were left fighting for position behind us. The course is a drag race till you hit the very steep and rocky climb at the end of the Boulevard section. At the top you enter the Family Trail. No sick parent would every consider taking their family on this thing. Very rocky, rooty and zig-zags all over the place. It was still a freight train of 10 guys going through there. I was still locked in 3rd behind Shadd and Cameron coming out of the single track and hitting the long open meadow at the top of the course. The field was starting to get strung out but there were still 6 or 7 of us together. Shadd lead the way down Tasty Goodness and we came though lap one in that order: Shadd, Cameron, myself, with Breslin, Ploch, Elwell in tow. I decided to try my hand at getting the race fired up and took off on lap 2. I led most of that lap and came through to start lap 3 with a slight lead but not much. The race was coming back together behind me. Lap 3 had the freight train back together. Chris Ploch pulled the best move of the day and slid by me going into Tasty for the 3rd time. He was nice enought not to send me into the trees in doing so. Me and him started to pull away going down Tasty and came through to start the last lap together. That's when Dave Breslin moved up and took over, going by us on the climb. Chambers and Elwell soon followed and I couldn't respond to that move. I just tried to hold it together and maybe catch back up if one of them blew up. I was in 4th overall at this point and Ploch was still with me. I had to resign to the fact I couldn't improve on that but I didn't want to fall back into 5th either. The race behind us had finally thinned out but there were still fast guys back there, like Shadd Smith and Tom Price. I managed to stay in front of Chris going into Tasty for the last time and rode my ass off to get enough of a gap so I could relax near the finish. Definately some of the tighest racing I've done this year. My 4th overall was enough for 2nd in the 30-39 group behind Breslin's overall fastest time. The top 4 of us all came in within 1 minute of each other.