Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Annadel XC Race

The Annadel XC race was coming up and the Tallboy is far and away the best bike in my stable for that course.  And I was hoping to have a little help from "new bike speed" after just building up the new version the weekend prior.  "Blue" sure is purdy!
We arrived in Santa Rosa on Saturday morning a bit later than we'd planned, such is life with a 5mo old!  So as usual, not much of a warm up for me.  My legs were feeling a bit heavy but there just wasn't time to work it out.

The race starts as a mass roll out from downtown on Sonoma St.  It's a big knobby tire peloton with a bunch of guys who normally don't ride that closely together.  But at the front it's been pretty tidy for the most part.  I was hoping for a composed trip down the pavement which would give my legs a chance to work out their issues before having to pin it.  I even brought my cell phone because I was going to snap a selfie in the pack!  But some young guys decided to try and break away thirty seconds into it and screwed up that plan.  Dang.  The pace was up immediately and we strung out.  My chain skipped and I lost contact with the front group, nobody came around me to pull and a small gap formed.  I didn't panic and just reeled them back in slowly until I was back in the draft.

We dove into Howarth Park and the climbing started.  The legs weren't there yet and I was hanging on.  I had no power on the climbs and the front group of five or six quickly went out of sight.  I was pretty bummed but I just hoped it wouldn't take too long for the legs to come around and maybe hope to sneak in on the back end of the podium.  My trip down Cobblestone trail felt good.  I passed a couple guys and the new Tallboy was loving the descent.  I'd be praying for the downhills hoping to make some time up all day long.
We dropped down onto pavement and I had one guy in tow.  I had my head down a little too much and missed a turn into the singletrack.  Doh!  I usually don't make bonehead moves like that.  This was just not my day!  I hit the first long climb and just pressed on and got through it about a minute slower than my best time.  Ugh.  I had eaten a couple Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot Bloks (caffeine!!) though and the legs were starting to feel better by the time I turned into North Burma.  I had some spunk back and could rip on the flowy trail and descent, just one second off my best time.

I was starting to reel a few people in, but after a short climb and railing another descent, I was fading again on the next big climb up South Berma.  Looking back at Strava, I was again a minute off my best time, but I wasn't really loosing ground to the riders around me.  In my head, it was a race to the Lawndale DH with the riders I could see.  And I managed to catch the two guys in view before the singletrack started and then my race was on.  I caught Justin Harrell in a switchback and he pulled over to let me through (thanks!).  My glasses were sweat covered and I couldn't see any detail on the heavily shaded trail.  But that's probably the reason why I was so fast and PR'd that section.  The fun didn't last long enough though and I was climbing the pavement traverse over to Schultz trail for some more rough climbing.  Jen and Logan were there cheering for me though!

The Schultz climb is rough and where the Tallboy normally shines.  And for that matter normally I do too since it's such a power section.  But just not today.  It was yet another "get through it" section and I didn't think about it and just gave 'er what I had.

The beginner course merged back in just after Schultz and I had a little more traffic to deal with on the undulating Ridge trail.  Everyone was very courteous and moved over where they could and I kept chuggin'.  I could see that I was catching Brian Astell which was motivating.  When the trail turned down again I opened it up and let the Tallboy float over the rocks.  After a few corners I overtook Brian and charged to the finish.
 I would cross the line just off the pro podium in 6th place.  So close!  But not really... I was a minute back from 5th.  Considering my legs felt like water balloons for the first hour, I'm happy I did that well.  Weirdly this race didn't seem to take as long as it has felt in previous years, despite it being my slowest time.  It was good to be out there though, and I had a great time ripping the fun trails of Annadel (the one's not pointed up!).  Congrats to Michael Hosey who's been working hard coming back from injury and took the win over Levi Leipheimer.  And congrats to my teammate Ryan who pushed hard for 4th place.

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