Monday, August 13, 2007

Howell Mountian Challange

415... better recognize!

Class/ Expert Single Speed: 3rd Place

Course: 24 miles in T2:39 similar to N.V.D.C. shorter climb/ tons of single track.

Teammates: Geoff in Expert and Andy in Sport (both in age-group)

This year I have put a lot more focus on mountain biking and Howell Mtn. was one of the 3 races I had planned on from the start of the year. The other 2 being Napa Valley D.C. and Skyline Park, both which I attended earlier this year.

I got a ride up to Napa with Geoff and it gave us some time to catch up which was nice. I felt good going into this race. I had a great ride the previous Sunday with Andy at China Camp and was planning to let it all hang out. last week I had some leg muscle "flair up" which prevented me from doing the hard climbing efforts I would have liked to do for preparation but I did get in some good workouts for leg speed including the Port ride in Oakland which, for the SS, is half the battle.

It was cool to see some guys I don't get to see often. I was chatting so much, I only managed to get in about 30 min of warm up. My start wave was Expert and Sport SS combined and I lined up on the front row.

Whistle blows and once again, we're off like a heard of raging turtles. I swear the SS starts must look hilarious from a spectator's view. Anyway as we scoot up the paved start and as we get nearer to the bottleneck, leading onto the single track, I jumped into the lead and just kept the pace high. I wanted to get a good clean shot at the run-up and kept the pressure on all the way. I succeeded in staying in the lead past the run section and continuing on past the "airport" and along the open fire roads. I looked back and had a gap, I thought OK, better just ride tempo, conserve a bit, and wait to see who will be the players. I guessed it would be probley either Keith or Isaias. It turned out Keith did pull a bridge move with another guy I didn't know and we were off and running.

Keith went to the front and set a good pace. I was feeling good and it gave me a chance to sit in a bit. I knew Keith had done this race before and knew his way around, so it was looking like it might be our little race. Things were going well and I moved to the front right before the most technical part of the course. It's a section of strung together sharp downhill switch-backs and I was going perhaps a little-too-fast for the first lap and took a digger on the same tight left-hander that got me on the 1st lap in the N.V.D.C. you think I would learn!

As I was getting up, Keith went by and said "it's 3 laps, take it easy" he was right, I knew it. I was getting a little bit excited so after catching back up I decided to just be patient, ride together and see how things unfolded. We were moving along nicely then we started to get into the climbing portion of the race. I started having some difficulty and had to walk sooner than the others and a gap was opening.


OK be calm , ride your pace and I might be able to close. YA... no. After getting done with the major climbs I was back onto the open/ flatter portion and could no longer see Keith or the other guy. Well, a little deflating but not the end of the world. I kept the pace high (around 100 rpm's) on the flat and really was in the zone.

On the 2nd lap, I was still in 3rd and did completely solo. I was able to get into a good rhythm and started to picking off riders. No sooner had I gotten back on to the single track that I came upon Geoff. I rode past and he gave me a 30 sec time off Keith and yelled at me to keep hammering. He wasn't having too good a day and was "on a Sunday ride" he puled out after 2 laps.

I started the 3rd and final lap and felt the twingy signs of cramps coming on :( Oh man not now, not when I really wanted to lay it down as I felt surprisingly good otherwise. I consumed all the gel I had left and started drinking more frequently. I figured running out of fluid half-way into the last lap would be ok.....

When I hit one of the short steep climbs after the half way point, I was getting almost-lock-up leg cramps, what a dilemma. At this point, I was starting to worry about not even making it to the finish much less hold onto 3rd.

Well sure enough, starting the biggest climb for the last time, Isaias caught me and slowly passed me as I was walking my bike. It was painful to see him creep away but there was nothing I could do. He looked like he was in some difficulty as well and I figured if I kept him close I might have a chance to catch him. Sure enough, that chance came on the final of 3 big rocky whoops. I got back on his wheel and from there it was flat/ rolley/ downhill to the finish. He prompted me to "go ahead", I obliged and proceeded to drill it. Sorry buddy! I was on a mission from there on out and opened up a gap.

Going past the airport I took a glance to see if Isaias was making any time back and I couldn't see him. I drove it home as fast as I could even sprinting around the finishing track alone. I was just going for max time at that point.

Although I felt that I could have done better, it was a great result. I got to have a tactical race and got the hole-shot which is super important in MTB racing and Cyclocross. Better, stronger, faster is the aim. October will be crunch time.

I think I'm on the right track.

Thanks to Geoff, and Andy for the rides. It was great to see the familiar faces of Keith, Isaias, Eric Nelson, the CycleSport crew, Paul B, and Brian Estell. Might have missed some there....


1st Andrew Hall/ 2nd Keith Marchando/ 3rd Nick Hanni

Good race for sure!


Anonymous the other rooster said...

hey! forgot your blog for a bit, then I come to find it today and what great news - watch out now! congrats on your race.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome brotha glad to hear your still riding hard. We need to ride sometime, do a test ride on a Mutt 7800 at Dominican.

Keep on ridin & smilin

David Rodrigues

Blogger isaiasjob said...

Nice work keeping the pressure on me ;-) I knew if you caught me near the final flats it was all over. I can see the benefit of your roadie ways and the 29er are a powerful combo.

Looking forward to more battles in 'cross!

L8r homie!


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