Sunday, May 16, 2010

ICUP Sundance Spin Race Report

Leading Up to the Race

Thursday night I raced the same Sundance course in the Weekly Race Series, leaving my legs fairly beat up from riding at race pace for near 90 minutes.  The next day, I packed the road bike to work with the plan of just going for an easy spin at lunch time to help recover in time for Saturday's ICUP.  As it turned out, I couldn't decline an invite from Rick S. to ride Squaw Peak during lunch.  I debated for a second on whether to go, as riding with Rick is usually the equivalent of a race for me, but I love riding Squaw and much prefer climbing to spinning* any day.

*Although I've read that doing a recovery ride where you spin easy is good for recovery, I really don't enjoy those types of rides.....feels more like a waste of time to me.

On the climb up Squaw, Rick was kind enough to keep the pace manageable, so we rode together, although  he was able to carry on an easy conversation, while I was limited to sentences of 10 or fewer words.  Before the 4 mile mark, I started to fade and he steadily pulled away.  Btw, Rick recently posted a time of 27:08 on this climb (i.e. he's fast). 

While we recovered at the lookout point, he gave me some encouraging advice.  He said, "you know, sometimes doing a hard, short effort before a race is the best thing you can do", or something close to that.

That night as I iced my sore calf, I kept telling myself over and over that Rick had to be right.

Race Day

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a race.  It sure was nice to feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I took my time getting ready to ride.  Here's a picture of the sky over Sundance (photo credit - my 4 yr. old son):

I made an extra effort to warm up my stiff legs by doing a dozen or so short climbs on the paved road.  I was one of the last ones to line up, but I felt pretty good after the warm up.  Rick's words kept playing over and over in my head.  I was just hoping he was right.

I was racing in the Sport 35-39 category with a total of 10 riders. Our race course was 2 laps, each approximately 7 miles and 1,000 ft. vertical.

Lap 1
At the start, Mark followed by Miles jumped out in front on the first climb up the paved road.  Here's Mark (center) and Miles (left):

I followed Miles in 3rd position as we started on the single track.  We chatted back and forth like it was the start of a lunch ride, while we pedaled the exposed trail at the south end of the course.  We had to pass several riders along this section from the group of racers who started ahead of us, which was a bit sketchy with the exposure on the passing side (I'm still working out the kinks on my passing skills).

At the steep double track after the chair lift (see below pic), I knew this would have to be my chance to put some time between me and Miles as I was pretty certain he'd gain some time on the windy descent. 

I was able to pull ahead on this climb and maintain a gap until the summit, although I wasn't more than 20-30 seconds ahead of Miles.  As I started the descent, I wasn't riding too smoothly around some of the sharp switchbacks, especially once I starting seeing Miles through the trees above and that he was closing on me quickly.  It wasn't long and Miles was riding my wheel and I had to let him fly by, along with Justin Thomas and one other rider.

Lap 2 and Finish

Just prior to starting lap two, I caught Miles and Justin on the paved climb, giving me a buffer going into the single track.  I felt my power starting to fade on the little short-effort climbs.  The steep double track was especially painful, even though I was in one of my smallest gears.  However, the other riders behind me must have been hurting too, as I was able to maintain my position to the summit.  I was grateful for a couple of fast riders from other categories that passed me as they kept my pace up as I tried to hang with them.

On the descent, I figured it was only a matter of time before Miles and Justin would catch me like they did on lap 1.  I starting planning in my head how I could battle it out on the last climb up the road to the finish.  I kept looking over my shoulder for Miles** but he never came.  Instead, Jason from Sport 30-34 blew by me at the bottom just after the dirt turned to pavement, partly I think because I'm such a pansy and was riding my brakes rolling onto the road and partly due to him leaving it all out there with a hard effort.  After he passed me, I was determined to catch him (for bragging rights I guess) before the finish line and turned myself inside out trying.  I passed him shortly before the finish.

**As it turned out, Miles unfortunately took a spill on the descent and luckily wasn't hurt other than some scrapes and bruises.  Despite the fall, he still hopped back on the bike and finished a strong 3rd.  Nice job.

Congrats to Mark on the strong ride and win.  He's going to be tough to beat the rest of the season.  And Miles all I have to say is this is going to be a fun season!

First podium for me!

Also, check out this guy's frame that broke in two spots.  Crazy!  Luckily it was while he was going slow on a climb (I bet it was on the steep double track).


Rick Sunderlage said...

Nice work! Maybe we should make the Squaw Peak lunch ride a tradition before ALL MTB races. You look good standing on that box!

Dad said...

Way to go Brannen! You are a winner! Next time...the top box! Your mom & I love to read your blogs. I just hope you don't injure yourself like some of the others. Ah, but the thrill of doing a job well! We love you. By the way, we are also following another "winner" in our family--Tyler. He qualified for regionals in the 400meter and the 4 X 400 relay last Friday in Richland! He is a very good runner (PR'd in the 400 and his relay team came in the 4th qualifying position even after the anchor fell down) and we hope to follow him to the state track meet in Tacoma in a couple of weeks. Good racing to you both!!

Triggermouse said...

Hey Brannen, just so you know I was there there with my camera and I shot a bunch of pictures if you are interested in seeing them they are at . You can search by your race number to make it easier to find your photos. Also I I never told anyone I was coming to the event, so if want to tell anyone else there about my site it would be appreciated! Awesome job and I am hoping next year I will have my bike with me instead of my camera!

bjchild said...

Rick - I think you're on to something with the Squaw Peak ride.

Dad - I'll see what I can do to move up one box. I need to stop eating ice cream for one. That's great about Tyler. The 400M race is a tough one.

Triggermouse - Thanks for the comment. I like your pictures from the race. I'll pass the word along.

Sabrosa Cycles said...

Whoa. I have never see a top tube fail like that. Kind of interesting.

Nice finish.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that doing a full effort century the day of a race brings great results too. Try that one next time...

Beth said...

Nice job! Looks like fun. -Brent