I'll be honest, I really didn't know what was going to happen yesterday. If this was a day of registration type race I probably woundn't have gone. Woke up still hacking and having a hard time breathing. But because I'm such a cheap ass I was not giving up $85!!!!
Did the last of the car packing as my failed attempt of steel cut oats cooked, pre race food tip from Watson. I was rushing as I measured out the mix and the steel looked a little more like, I don't know. I ate them anyways.
Rain was in the forecast, it was cold, toque cold. Hey I'm sick already so why should I worry. Heather (the greatest coach), her boyfriend Jason and I were all going to use the same transition pit so a little maneuvering of cars and gear and we were all set up to go. I was always looking around to see who was here. Did a half assed warm up, rode up the start hill. The legs felt questionable. I had two thoughts on how to race today. Leave smart and a little slower than normal and be consistent or go full out and hope I hold on. Like I have any self control.
I was second row with about 35 rows behind me. If I blow early I'll get trampled. So I pretty much went full out off the line, like usual. When I pre rode the course last weekend I thought the first 6-7 minutes of the course were boring, not today, it was perfect amount of climbing and a couple technical lines of single track to break up the pack. I was right on Paul Loughran's wheel. He was the biggest threat out there taking 2nd at the other two epic 8's A couple of team riders got into our mix.
The big highlight of this lap for me was riding with Don Gain from the Barrie Cycling Club. We started racing at Hardwood about the same time 8 years ago and we used to battle it out all the time on the same trails we were riding on today. I'd said that to him, Do you remember how simple it was for us a few years back, that was followed by Wait this is still a lot of fun, it just takes longer.
Back to the task at hand, I noticed that Paul climbs much more aggressive than I do and would pull away on the climbs by a few seconds but I would get right back up on his wheel in the technical section and in a few places pass him and put a few seconds on him. I started making my game plan. We came through 1-2 on the first lap. The next lap he pulled away up the climbs putting about 15 seconds in to me. No panic, it's still early. As I thought might happen I caught up to him in the technical and we came through the lap together again.
3rd lap was about the same until the technical. I pushed it a hair and put some good gaps into him. by the time the lap was done I was up 30 seconds. I've always known that I'm not the greatest climber but more that I don't attack hills. That's why I'm a mediocre Ontario Cup racer. Technical is my strength, one thing with an 8 hour is how much the course will change over the length of the race. Technical is very important.
At this point my legs started to hurt, I started to tell myself go until you can't turn the cranks, last race of the year. Seemed to help, ok not really they still hurt but I was not getting of the bike except for the timing tent area. Oh and my wonderful attempt at pulling my timing chip out, dropping my timing chip, try and stop with out getting run over to get my timing chip, run back and grab the timing chip and finish the lap. All this happened as Glen was commentating over the P.A. " Matt, what the hell are you doing!!!" Of course I made a scene and was running with my arms flailing in the air. I was having fun!!!
At the end of the 5th I was leading all the solo's but I kept getting a glimpse of a solo plate, it wasn't Paul. Heading out on the 6th he caught me. Steve Chapman is an Elite Ontario cup racer and I had heard something about him before the race. Mainly that he's fast. What took the stress down, single speed under his feet. Ok keep your pace. We rode together that lap chatting. Maybe talking to much because coming down a fast single track section in a line of riders I didn't respond quick enough as Steve hopped over a stick that had rolled into the trail on a 45 degree angle. Yep, I nailed it and had the front wheel come out. Took a few seconds to get going again. Nothing broken, nothing permanent. It took me a good part of the next lap to regain my focus. I have a huge bruise on my inner thigh.
The next few laps I just rode my pace, I was feeling really good. The rain held off, I was climbing strong and steady. Going down hill fast again. I kept asking Mom how big a lead I had on 2nd. She would never tell me. Probably so I didn't go into cruise control but she started to ask me when I was going to catch the single speeder!!!! Yep she knows how to motivate me. Shut up and pedal, ok those are my words. A little shot of coke (pop) and I was off.
A lap or two later and I caught Steve. We both had huge leads over 2nd so we rode a good chunk of our lap together. Nice guy, going to be a doctor, hopefully he stays in Canada. The next lap I had rode away from him only to have him come back and pass me. A little battle had begun. Coming into lap 13 we were close but he told me he was shutting down quickly. I said I would stay until he popped or slowed down to much. One of the last climbs we split. I have never ever been so happy to have a granny gear!!!
Started lap 14 and I debated, do I hammer or cruise it. Screw it, last race of the scheduled season lets see what's left in the legs. I pushed the climbs as hard as i could, I told myself to push what I wouldn't normally and recover on the single track. I shocked myself . I was also smiling and giggling a little with the results of the day. I had fun and had a great race.
Crossed the line 1st in the under 40 and 1st solo overall. Found out after only 6 teams did more laps than I did. I was never concerned about my fitness level, I know it was there but the cold was in the back of my mind the whole time. My body is paying for it this morning. I'm expecting to get a relapse but I really don't' care if I do. It's officially the end of the mountain bike race season.
Some highlights to me at this race.
It didn't rain!!!! The stump that I nailed 2 years ago and broke ribs at this same race is still there, I stared at it with a lot of focus every single lap.
Heard Watson yelling at me for something when I went through the timing tent, a few hours later it was Jacob and Liz. Still don't know what anyone said but will find out.
I watched Glen make a racer do 10 push up for not dismounting before the line at the transition tent. I came close once in the remount area and actually jumped back off my bike ran 3 more feet then got on. I didn't want to take a chance.
I got to race the way I need to, being able to talk with people. I'm not the most social person unless I'm on my bike. I had a great time.
Thank you MOM, AGAIN!!! for everything.
A little props need to be put out. Anyone looking for a coach. Heather is the woman to talk to if you want to do endurance racing. Under 40 winner, me, over 40 winner Mike Mazza are coached by her, oh and she happened to destroy in the women's division. Congratulations Heather. Jason will go after the single speed for next year once his girlfriend starts to whip him into shape.
Congratulations to Paul, I was looking over my shoulder for you the whole race, you made me keep the pace up. Steve for a great battle, made things interesting and fun. Mike Mazza, buddy awesome result today. Everyone over 40 better watch out for this guy. Everyone else I talked to out on the course including a few doing their first solo. Great job.
Ok, I really need to eat again!!! Infinit is the best race fuel on earth but right now I want something solid. I only used Infinit for the whole race plus 3 drinks of pop and had zero energy loss!! I could have kept going with no energy problems
Full race results are here. Click the results link at the top. More tomorrow.