This race was not particularly kind to me last year, and I didn't feel that great even two weeks after the last alcohol (before Bordertown). Oh well. After another unseasonably cool week, the Saturday turned out pretty nice, almost warm enough. In the valley, that is, before the climb up to Magic Mountain ski area, a great place to have a mountain bike race, where it was downright cold. Maybe it wouldn't rain, despite the threatening clouds? Cold rain would really suck.
But let's think positive. I seemed to have fixed my two-week-old flats well as of the day before. Tires held air all the way to the race, and it was even fun driving up the canyon in the GTI. Whee!
Ok, still cold. Darrel showed up, and even Mark Stones (said he wasn't going to race at all this year!) but no Rich or Aaron again. Once again the course had to be changed due to snow at higher elevations - not that much higher, I could still see it in the shady spots above on the slopes. However the hiking trail start from last year would not be making a return appearance, courtesy of the Forest Service.
It was actually fine with me to start out up the road. I got to use my rear-shock lockout, even. But it wasn't long before Darrel went by me, we weren't even off the road yet, and he wasn't even breathing as heavily as at Bordertown. Hmm. I was pushing as hard as I felt comfortable with, but started to try and analyze this puzzling lack of competitive fitness. Training elevation certainly was under consideration, as Magic Mountain is probably near 7000' - again, not as much of a change for Darrel or me living in IF as me living in Boise. Not too much climbing-specific training either, and I pretty much killed myself at the Thursday night time trial. But it wasn't strong drink, that was for sure. Ok, problem(s) tentatively identified, continue to ride.
Slowly up the climbing singletrack (using the lockout again, woohoo). Then the top of that climb, and down fire road though...snow drifts? And mud from melting snow, looked pretty slippery to me. Mark whizzed by, but he is a gonzo downhiller. I was concentrating on not crashing, and that didn't even make me crash. It did make me slow, of course.
The numerous creek crossings were also chilly, and I was glad for the arm and knee warmers along with wolly socks and full-finger gloves. There were only a few places where I felt overheated on the course, and that was simply remedied by pulling down the arm warmers and jersey zipper. The long switchback climb. I was walking it, a lot. Quite tired, couldn't get any air, and this was only halfway through the first lap! Things were not looking good.
Then another singletrack descent with melting snowdrifts, didn't make up any time on anyone there, popped out onto the road below the resort. The first part of the road felt good, but that was because it was a flat spot. Then uphill to the start/finish in the parking lot. I have to go around again?
Maybe I can catch someone this time. Nobody I was racing against was in sight of course, but there was a woman that I thought I recognized from driving by in a white Audi wagon in the parking lot. Closed in on her during the singletrack climb, but she was way gone (despite riding a poser Klein) on the downhill. The next climb, passed Jay, whose back was hurting. I was feeling a little more steady, and he said later that Darrel and Mark weren't that far ahead of me. Caught the Klein rider/Audi driver from Jackson, and we had a little Audi-related chat as I went by on the long singletrack switchbacks. Soon after that, Rich the Sun Valley trust-fund baby bike-shop owner time-trial maniac zoomed by on his way to winning the pro class.
I made it to the top and started down the other side before the next pros cuaght me - rocketing by on the descent were Craig, Todd, and Shawn. Nobody else though, all the way back up the road to the finish. Ugh.
Put the bike away, got something to eat and some more clothes on, and I was about ready to leave. No more Thursday TTs before races for me. And more climbing is on the agenda too.
Results were final in the computer, but it wouldn't talk to the printer so they had to hand-write them back out onto paper. And after I saw that I was recorded in fourth place, despite no one else (Mark, Jay) remembering anyone there in third, I was gone. Back downhill to where it was warmer, but had to push a nasty headwind all the way back to Boise.
The singletrack wins again.
Official (correct?) results at the Wild Rockies website