In past races I had gone out at a manageable pace, but this time I told myself I would go out hard. Apparently everyone else had the same idea. The pace was blistering and by the time I hit Alice Lake I was thinking about dropping out and doing some fun day-riding. My legs were just barely functioning and certainly lactic as I rode by Credit Line and I couldn't help thinking that would be a lot more fun. It wasn't long after that however, that I started to feel a bit better. Jack's trail was super buff and the flow on the trail was such that I was able to spin out some of the crap. I was thankful to be stuck in behind a speedy rider, and good friend, Karen Todd. And just three riders ahead of her was my arch nemesis, Duncan Coo. With my lack of mountain bike training this year, I figured Duncan finally had me beat. As Alice Lake spit us out onto Bob Macintosh Trail, Karen sped off and Duncan and I "yo yo'd" back and forth until the bottom of 9 mile hill. The lead up to 9 mile was meant to be super fast and flowy, but the trails were busy and clogged. Rob's and Cliff's corners and Roller Coaster were tight and slow. One rider was blaming the road riders. He said they were fast on the road and then faking it on the dirt. I laughed. I guess it made sense.
Going through the feed zone the first time was great. My feed boy, Mike Tunnah, stood in the middle of the road in his bright green West Coast Racing jersey, screaming. He had two bottles, one of them was not mine, and that's when I knew Duncan was still right behind me.
On our ride out to 9 mile we had a quick complaint session about the slow down Roller Coaster and then we settled into 45 minutes of pain. Once again, I left Duncan behind, but knew he was there. With those quads, he's always there, like Chuck Norris. Just before 9 mile bridge I caught up with Karen again, but was too tired to talk. I geared up for my ascent of Lava Flow Hill, passing ten other riders. I knew what was coming. The Rip! Thanks to the Test of Metal crew, the Rip had been raked and was incredibly fast. Before I knew it I was into the legendary Powerhouse Plunge. My body was really starting to hurt and I immediately had the "stupids" as I entered this trail. Managing to ride it all was surprising, but it wasn't pretty. All the while I kept reminding myself to spin as much as possible. I was certain I was going to cramp on my second pass through the Powerhouse feed zone.
Again, there was Mike screaming in the middle of the road, but this time he only had one bottle. I silently cheered as Mike pushed me up the hill and around the corner. Before entering Crumpit Woods I guzzled down the entire bottle of Nuun and just in time for a wicked awesome quad cramp. I muscled my way through the cramp and pretty much all of Crumpit Woods to meet a head wind on Plateau Drive. The end was near and I was going for it. Unfortunately my legs weren't going for it with me. Something was heavy and slow. I thought nothing of it and finished the race in 3:31.
I milled around for awhile to eat, see friends finish, and most importantly, cheer on Lara. She came across the line in 4:48 and was that person with the pumping arm and the ginormous grin. It was pretty cool.
After lounging on the grass, eating a sausage plate, and hearing of everybody's day, I retrieved my Yeti from the bike check to see a flat tire. I think I know why the last bit of the race was so tough.
It was a perfect day out there. The trails were tacky and buff and everyone I know set a personal best. Congratulations everyone. Next year I might ride my bike a few more times before the race. Running is great, but some of my muscles were definitely not prepared.