Well it looks like racing season is upon us already! This past weekend myself and teammate Chris White headed down to Chesterfield Virginia (outside Richmond) for Monster Cross, a 50 mile cross race. It looked like a fun pre-season race and the weather looked too good to pass up with a forecast of 59 degrees and sunny….in February! So we packed up the cross bikes and headed down south for some racin’ This was my first attempt at an endurance cross race and Chris’ second endurance cross race with Iron Cross Race being his first.
So weather looked great, course looked pretty flat and fun, had the potential of seeing a lot of familiar faces, and I was looking forward to a day of suffering on the bike. Chris and I both had the attitude that this was a day to ride bikes hard, have fun, and get some good training in…and that’s what we did! (The fact that it was a race was well….not significant). So a few minutes after 10am the race was off and into the woods we went with 50 miles ahead of us. My goal was to be sub 4 hours to complete the race and since this was my first race of this type that was a shot in the dark. I went into the woods riding pretty hard but not trying to overdo it since it was going to be a longish day on the bike….then my mp3 player decided it didn’t want to play mp3’s….great…but at least the bike was working well, legs felt good, and there were plenty of people to chit-chat with. Then about 4 miles into the race at a bridge crossing I came across a pretty bad wreck. As I pulled up to the carnage one racer was pulling himself out of the creek and another racer was laying in the middle of the trail with a bloody face and another racer stabilizing his head and neck. I decided it should stop with my emergency services background and assist. So after a little while, once 911 had been contacted, and other racers who stopped with more qualifications than me (i.e. two doctors and a medic) and I made sure there was nothing else I could do, I continued on my way. After stopping for about 8 minutes most of the race had already passed us and continued on, this created a challenge, ride hard and try to make up places while playing catch-up, all while not trying to run myself into the ground and bonk.
Off I went chasing the field and passing racers left and right and mostly who were towards the back of the pack. Luckily this race course was almost all double track and fire roads where I was able to easily pass people and hold a good pace. This race was also the first time I have raced with a Garmin cycling GPS and so I was watching my average speed, heart rate, distance, time, etc and trying to gage how much effort I need to put forth. So I rode hard, rode sustainably, and tried to maintain good hydration and nutrition intake, and of course still have fun in the process.
I went into the second lap and met up with a couple friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, this was a good moral booster. One it meant that I made good progress playing catch-up and two it meant I had some familiar company to ride with for a few miles. After a few miles though I decided that I needed to pick the pace back up and continue to ride hard. I was a little worried though that I was going to run myself into the ground and bonk, but I wanted to see if I could maintain a strong pace (a dangerous game that I am still getting used too).
Well in the end it worked out well and I finished with a result that I was happy with! I finished 187th out of 382 overall and 36th out of 54 in my division with a finish time of 3:30:38 and an overall average speed of 13.77mph. What a great way to start off the year! Its three days after the race and I am still feeling the effects, I am both physically drained but more importantly mentally pleased with how I raced.
Looking forward to a great year and hopefully some great results!