This time the first 17 miles were a shock to the system for about 20 minutes and after I fell over, I seemed to recover and began riding stronger. The hardest part of the first 17 miles for me are the sustained climbs. Throw in the small baby-head rocks and roots and it is a chellenge. I tried to bomb down the forest road decent to make time and the gravel surface made me use my brakes more than I wanted. The flattish wooded section that followed went quickly and the next uphill climb, smoothly.
When I got to the sag for the second 17 I felt a lot better than last time. Last time I actually pulled out my phone to call it a day but this time I was more than ready for the last part. I had made it there in 1:30 compared to 1:46 last time. My PR for the last 17 miles was 2:00 so I really wanted to make a 3:30 for the whole race.
Bascially the last 17 miles is a tough uphill climb with roots and a couple of steep switchbacks. Here I got bogged down behind some geared riders who were doing their best but I could not pass them there. Eventually I got by and tried once again to make up ground on the decent. Midway through there is a forest road that is a long gradual climb and at the top you know it is 8 miles to go and the bullshit starts. Actually it is really only 6 to go because the last 2 miles are straight downhill.
The climb up to the ridge is a walk for me. I walked faster this time and less than before and tried to ride everything until I had to put a foot down. The geared guys were riding it in the granny and I almost was able to keep up walking. At the top the bullshit starts. By bullshit I mean the time-eating endless rock gardens. You see the rock sizes increasing and they go from baby-heads to soccer ball sized and then washing machine sized in places. It is bullshit. But, I know this so this time I vowed to ride everything until I had to dab a foot and reset. On the single speed it is particularly hard because of the loss of momentum. Once you are going slow and hit a rock the wrong way, or spin out, you have to reset. Also, there are some steep downhills from the ride and back up in the first part and those steep downhills are nail biters.
Once you get to the photographers you know that there is only about 3 miles to go and the rock field is almost over. I had my watch timer set to countdown every 20 minutes so i could drink . At the last climb to the radio tower (which marks the trail's end and the downhill begins) I knew I was at 3:20 and would have to really bomb the paved downhill.
I aero-tucked as best as you can on a MTB and sprinted the best you can on a single-speed and in the end posted a 3:29.22. I shaved off around 17 minutes from last time in February.
Getting back to the finish area Shane rode a 3:10 and my other friend Eric Nicoletti rode a 3:18 which is pretty amazing. Both shaved over 20 minutes off from January.
I ended up 4th for the race and 6th overall in the 34 mile single-speed. I broke my 17 mile PR but 6 minutes but my record for the 17 mile TT fell to a fast guy who did around a 1:56.
On the way home I stopped at the outlet store for a moment and getting back on the highway I hit a 5 mile back up from a single car fatality(?) and sat on the highway for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It pretty much sucked but after seeing the car in the accident I understood why life-flight was needed. I really hope the person made it.
After I got home the telling sign is taking a shower and feeling all the scratches come alive as the water hits. The next eye-opener is this morning when most of my muscles were sore and it felt like I had been hit with a back of rocks. I guess I did around 70km of Paris-Roubaix cobbles back in 2004 and while the sensations are diffrent, these rocks come close to the same feeling.
Lastly, in February I had a hard time with cramping and eating. I bought a "Bento Box" which is a small (wallet sized) bag to keep my food and Gu in. It fits on the top tube. I also used a 70oz Camelbak. I am not thrilled to use a Camelbak but they help tremendously. The Bento Box worked great as well. I think my rule of thumb will be I will use them in races over 30 miles and for the Camelbak, any race over 85 degrees that is longer than 3 laps. I rerely get handups so having it on demand is pretty nice. They do get hot and you sort of feel like a dork though.