I feel like my training has been paying off and I've been feeling pretty fast the past few weeks, so I was looking forward to seeing how that would translate into the very rocky woods of Treasure Valley.
Cue the excuses...
I forced down half a bowl of instant oatmeal for breakfast - how can anyone eat that crap? Should have brought my own breakfast to my parents' house.
And I didn't leave enough time for a proper warmup.
So poor, tired me and my already tight lower back lined up with a decent-sized single speed field for two laps on a fairly brutal course. I fell back pretty quickly, then passed some guys on the climb, got passed again in the rough stuff, passed a couple more guys on another climb. I had no idea where I was, how I was doing or anything -- all I knew is that my lower back was screaming at me.
I tried 'yoga breathing' - sending my breath to the muscles - and that helped until the next technical section, which was never far away. Instead of yoga breathing, I think I might try actually DOING some yoga.
Anyway, I was hurting and came into the start/finish area dreading a second lap. Then I heard my time: 1:01. Really? Last year's winner had a time of 2:05. Huh. I knew there were guys in my class in front of me, but maybe I have a chance of catching them...
That gave me a little bit of energy and I decided to try to ride out the stiff back. I started attacking the technical sections with more abandon and powering out of turns and up over kicker hills like a proper single speeder. I was starting to feel pretty good about my riding even though my back was still screaming.
I had one technical section to go before the course's real big climb - and I was literally on the last rock of said technical section when I heard a SNAP! Given that I was suddenly riding on one butt cheek, I knew that I had broken my saddle.
I stopped to try to figure out what I should do. Ride on and risk it? Or bail? I've ridden broken saddles out of the woods before, but not on a technical course like this. Nevertheless, I decided to go for it. I knew that what remained was the big hill, then the technical woods for a while, then the smoother stuff nearing the end. I hopped back on the bike, determined, and started pedaling. I got about 50 yards, hit a little technical section and my butt hit the saddle and I slipped down-and-to-the-left and my back screamed and I thought "are you frickin crazy?"
I turned back around, found the quick route back to the start/finish and, for the first time ever in a race, took a DNF (Did Not Finish). I wasn't the only DNF with a broken saddle, and there were various other DNFs with mechanical problems and even some of the unlucky few who were stung by a rabidly disturbed nest of bees.
Clearly not a great race for me. I do wonder what would have happened had I not broken my seat - I would have been pretty close to a podium spot, I think, but who knows.
I don't think I'll do this race again. I enjoy riding technical terrain, but racing it is another story. And since there's so little similar technical terrain here on Cape, it's near impossible to train for it. Lesson learned = more yoga, less Treasure Valley Rally.
On the bright side, teammate Tim won his Cat2 class AND won the overall Cat2. Some dude came up to us after the race and was grilling Tim a bit because he figured Tim must have cheated or something because he won Cat2 by 5 minutes. No, dude, he's just that fast (and yes, he's upgrading).
Also, wife Kristy ran 5 miles while I was at the race. Killer. She seems to be a natural at the old running thing.
So between me and Tim and Kristy, 2 out of 3 of us had awesome days. Nothing wrong with that!
Thanks for reading.