September 18, 2008

It's over

Right after I re-opened it, I'm closing up my 2008 "season". The only thing going on in Florida is the state XC series and I've all but lost interest in short races. It's too much travel for too little riding. I could hit a few late-season endurance races sprinkled around the southeast, but again, it's too much travel for too little riding. See a recurring theme here? Travel costs are ridiculous. I'm even limiting my local dirt rides to no more than 2 hours round-trip and usually only do that once a weekend. Anything further away (Santos) requires an overnighter to make it worth the gas. Summer is finally releasing its death grip on Florida, so I'm sure some weekend camping trips will pop up.

I'm getting pretty strict about the "1 hour of riding per 1 hour of driving" rule. If I break the rule, there has to be some major fun factor involved to balance the equation. This event (scroll down the the September 3 post) fits into the equation perfectly. 4 days of riding, fall mountain weather, a dog-friendly host and lots of cool people and libations will be good for the soul.

Priority #1 is still getting my life in order. It's coming along slowly. There's also the Ridgeline project at Boyette to keep me busy. Lately it's been all we can do to keep on top of the summer growth and erosion on the existing trails, but come fall we should be able to start knocking it out. I'm really motivated to get this done because Lauren's Overlook sits in the middle of it. It's built and almost ready for the dedication. We just have to be able to get out there without crawling through the brush. I have a really special dedication ceremony in mind. It will be a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person.

The tentative plan for 2009 is to be race all the winter/spring enduros in Florida, then spend the spring and summer hitting select enduros in the southeast. I don't see myself travelling all over the U.S. chasing pack fodder glory anymore, except (hopefully) for the SM100. Man, I missed that race this year.

September 02, 2008

There was a little race last weekend

To say that the last 6 months have been a rollercoaster ride is an understatement. Riding obviously took a back seat for a while and became what it was years ago: Simply a way to get away from life's stresses. Structured training went out the window, replaced with a "ride however I feel" philosophy. I got back to regular riding in May and the hours have steadily gone up, but the new philosophy has stayed. Long rides have been few, but I have gotten in at least one long ride per week for a while now. I've also felt like I've been building some form again.

Roll back to about two weeks ago. The 8 Hours of San Felasco was on the horizon and I asked Kurt if he wanted to race it on a duo team. It seemed like a safe way to jump back into racing. A week went by and I started getting the solo itch. I got Kurt and Greg DeRosa to join me at Croom for a running of the Croom 50 course. We rolled it in a solid 4 hours in stifling heat, leaving Kurt to the vultures in the process. Based on this, racing for 4 hours was very doable. Racing for 8 hours would be a challenge. I needed a challenge.

It was good to have a goal for a week. I tapered, did some intervals, obsessed over lap times and fueling strategy, just like old times.

Fast-forward to Sunday, August 31. I had done as much prep work as I could, or at least I thought so. I'm standing on the line, chatting with old friends, the countdown starts and my heartrate starts to climb with that feeling I hadn't felt in a long time: Nervous anticipation. The horn goes off, we run a short distance to our bikes and we're off. I find myself with Greg and Jay Ulloa. Neither Greg or I had ridden the course yet, so we let Jay lead for most of the first lap. He attacked a few times, but came back quickly once he realized we were having no part of it - yet.

I had some mechanical issues to sort out during the 1st lap. My shifting was a bit wacky and a few turns of the barrel adjusters sorted it out. I had some skipping problems in the big ring that I couldn't sort out. After I finished prepping the bike Saturday, I looked at the big ring and thought it looked kind of worn, then I hung it up on the wall. It was worn out. Every time I tried to push up a climb in the big ring, it would skip. I just kept things in middle ring and I was fine.

The 3 of us stayed together until the end of the 2nd lap, when I pitted and they didn't. I ate the only solid food I'd eat all day. That half-bar sat in my stomach like a rock and I knew I'd have to rely on liquids and gels to get through a day that saw temps in the mid 90s all day. My pitting gave Greg and Jay a gap which allowed me to settle into my own rhythm. I ended up catching Jay at the end of the 3rd lap, but Greg was gone. Jay fell off the back and I was on my own.

You enduro freaks out there know that your mind has a lot of time to wander over the course of a day in the saddle. My mind started wandering to Lauren. San Felasco is one of those places that I visited with her more often than without. She had ridden every Tour de Felasco since the beginning. I thought about buying two entries for it next year and riding the course twice - once for me and once for her. I thought about how this would have been the kind of race she would've loved to race with a team of girlfriends. I thought about how if she didn't race, she'd be pitting for me, giving me invaluable support and encouragement. I was on the verge of tears at least 5 times out there. It would take me off my game and I'd think about how she'd want me to push through the adversity, to keep going. I thought about doing this for her, and keeping riding strong for her.

Lap 6 was my toughest. I was mired in a bonk and in a real funk. I decided that when I finished the lap I would take a short break, try to eat some food, get my head adjusted and go out for two more laps at a more "enjoyable" pace. On the way to scoring I saw Eddie. "Eddie! Got any Burn?" He just happened to have half a can in his hand that he'd just given to Namrita. He told me I was in 2nd place and not too far back from 1st. So much for the break. The racer took over, I grabbed 2 bottles and headed out for a much faster lap. Eddie was there again at the end with another Burn, this time a full can, to ensure I was bouncing around the trails like a pinball. I could make it back before cutoff if I really pegged it, but I ran the risk of making it and having nothing left for another lap. I kept the tempo high, but not so high that I left it all out there. I missed the cutoff by a few minutes and wasn't exactly bummed that I did.

Thank you Marcel for the pic. The effort was good for 2nd overall, which I was very happy with. Greg has been working his ass off this year and it shows.

It was good to feel butterflies while standing on the line again. It was good to push through adversity and come out of it stronger. It was good to see lots of old friends. It was good to hear the cheers of the crowd every time I rode through the pits.

It was good to be racing again.