It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a race report because I’ve haven’t done a race for over 3 months due to a nasty lung infection that has sidelined me from the race scene. I knew about 6 weeks ago that I was healthy and could start training, with my eye set on the Howell MT Challenge in Angwin California, which is near Napa. Looking at the past race results for people in my class, Expert 40-44, I knew it was going to be a LONG day. The winners were posting times around 2:30, so I was planning on 2:45- 3:00. A long time to be racing, 30 miles with lots of climbing. :
The week leading up to the race I’m already starting to get the jitters. I do my pre week taper, intervals, etc. Friday before the race I feel sooo tired and crappie. My wife has her usual empathetic response “ you always say you don’t feel god before a race” OK OK.
Saturday I get up early do my last ride and feel fine! What a surprise. I do the 3 hour drive to stay with some friends close to the race. The jitters are in high gear now, and the “rear cabin pressure” is growing.
Sunday: Actually got some sleep, get to the race early, warm up, and get to the start. At the start line I count 5 guys in my class. Hey that’s good odds for getting on the podium. Only one problem, 2 of the 5 guys are the top ranked NORBRA 40-44 Experts in the country! It’s a long race anything can happen.
We start with the usual anaerobic sprint, to my surprise I’m right behind the studs, just keep them in site. After 5 minutes they start to pull away, with a few guys from the 35-39 group. Now it’s me and a guy who I think is in my group, trading pulls on the only flat part of the course. We get to the uphill single-track and I start riding like a beginner. I get so stiff when I race that my technical skill go out the window. He asks to pass me and I’m on my own, figuring I’m in fourth. But it’s a long race. I keep noticing my rear tire feels low I finally stop, stick the co2 on, and get back on the bike. Finish lap1 , feel strong still, no other guys in my group in site. Get to the single track again, now that I’ve got some racing in me I’m relaxed and breeze through the single track. But my dam tire feels low again.I stop and squeeze the rear tire and it’s fine! The entire time it’s just been my Imagination. What a MOOK!
As I’m flying down the downhill in lap 2 I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder…damn I just got stung by a bee or something! Man it hurts. I know I’m getting close to the start finish, and if I’m allergic I can stop. I do the long climb out, no allergic reaction, my legs are starting to get the first cramps. I’m getting tired and would really like to stop but Nooooooo, I have another lap to go. What the heck was I thinking when I moved up to expert!
Lap 3- The lonely lap, almost everyone else is done and I’ve got another 10 miles of racing and I’m hurting. This is really the hardest part of moving up to Expert class. I keep my cadence as high as possible to save my legs. But, I’m determined to go as hard as I can for the last lap and finish strong with nothing left in the tank. On the final climb I actually see 2 other riders. I know they are not in my group, but dam it I want to pass them anyway! I go up 3 gears get out of the saddle and put the hammer down and pass both of them. Get to the top of the climb then downhill to the finish! I can hardly move. They take my number and tell me I finished THIRD! My response..”Are you sure” Yep we sure! Yee hah! When the final results were posted I see that the other riders in my group all DNF’D. Like I said it was long race, 2:37 for me. Here is a pic of me getting my Bling Bling!