Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Long Weekend.

This was a long and exhausting weekend for me not just because I had 2 races but early morning races. I had to drive up to Seeley, WI starting at 5am for the 10:30 start and again this morning for the 9:00 am start in Henderson MN for the state road race championships.

Round 1: It had been raining up in Seeley for the past 2 days and things were muddy in a few spots but the course was in pretty good condition. When I arrived it was 48 degrees with clouds and drizzle. It pretty much stayed that way the whole day. Upon arrival I also smelled anti-freeze. I checked the reservoir and it was empty, "crap!" The last thing you want during a race is something like this in the back of your mind. Jay Richards knows what I'm talking about. I decided I'll deal with it after and tried to block the thoughts of maybe not getting home. The start was one of the slowest mtb starts I've ever experienced. Everyone was content with getting somewhat of a warm up on the pavement before entering the double track. I was sitting about 6th wheel behind H'wood and Jeff Hall. Hollywood went to the front up the steeper pavement grade to lead us up to the entrance of the trails. I was feeling within my limits for the first few miles still holding 6th wheel (TJ Woodruff, Jeff Hall, Tim Swift, Chad Sova, Matt Muraski, myself) but when TJ and Jeff turned the screws a bit harder on the climb after we crossed back over the pavement I was off the back. No one was on my wheel either and as usual I was in no mans land for a long time. I put it in TT mode and rolled the ski trail sections as smooth as I could. That was for like the first 45 min of the race or so. When I entered the first time through the single track I was gaining on a rider. It took me almost a whole lap to reel him in. It was Matt Muraski. I sat on his wheel for a couple min thinking I could just sit in for a bit and recover, but when I looked back, to my amazement, I caught a glimpse of the orange off a Ski Hut jersey (I later found out it was Mike Bushy putting in a stellar ride with Nikolai Anikin) I had to up the pace so I attacked going into a single track section. Matt never came with so I just kept trying to get myself some time. Somewhere on the second time around the singletrack loop I caught Chad Sova. "I was wondering when you were going to catch me" he said as I rode past. I just kept going because a: I didn't want to have to sprint at the end with anyone, and b: I didn't want the group behind to catch up. The last 2 miles are the longest in that race. Probably because its posted. The race goes by so much faster if you don't know the mileage but only refer to the different sections. Idk maybe its just me. Anyway, when I got on to the gravel finishing straight which is what a half mile or so, I could see Tim swift but he was to far to catch so I rolled across in 4th 42 sec. behind. Chad and Nikolai behind me made up some ground because they were only 12 sec behind me. 25 miles in 1:43.04. I think TJ and Jeff set a new course record of 1:38.05. TJ won by .8sec. Good fun race though and I broke even on gas and entry fees.

Photos taken by Lisa Humphrey

Ok now for the exciting ride home. Tom Gaier (race director and friend) gave me some jugs of water to keep the radiator full. I made it from Seeley to Siren before the temp gauge started to rocket up and overheat. This is where everything went south on me. If I was up to speed like above 50mph the needle would be steady on normal but as soon as I would slow down for a town it would overheat. As soon as I saw the needle take off I'd shut the engine off and pull over. I would sit for about 10 min and let the car puke anti-freeze all over, and cool off a bit. This happened about 8 times or so. The best was when I was going down 35 just south of Forest Lake. Right when the needle went up I was just coming to a rest stop turn off, so I put it in neutral and turned the engine off,and made a silent entry and a perfect landing. My mechanics house was closer than my house so I just drove it straight there and parked it. I finally got home at about 6:30 or 7. I then had to unpack and pack at the same time, getting ready for today.
Round 2: Up at 5am again. Sam surprisingly wanted to go down to the race today so he drove Floyd and me down in his company van.
Side note: Sam finished up 24 hrs of Afton on a relay team yesterday so he only got like 7 hrs of sleep since friday. Also, Jack Hinkens showed up today for the JR state road race championships after doing 24 hrs of Afton on a relay team himself. He even won the road race. P.S- Sam also roller skied a bit when we got back and is now cutting the lawn. What an animal.
Ok back to the State RR. I made my debut back to the road scene at this one. The last road race I did was Memorial weekend of 2008 at the 1st annual Duluth Classic Stage Race. This was another cold start. I was shivering and teeth chattering on the roll-out. It was a neutral start up to the top of the main climb which was also the finish. This was a really flat course with only the 2km climb up to the lap/finish line. We had 4 laps of 18 miles (72 miles) to do. and I was feeling good for the first 2-3 laps. On the climb I was doing just fine when guys were breathing heavily and pushing squares next to me. Nothing got organized and the flyers were coming back quick so I just stayed in the pack most of the time knowing it would come down to the final climb (I did chase down one flyer near the end of the 3rd lap with another teammate). There was one super fast descent down to the river valley and I clocked a 51mph max speed, bummer that there was a 90 degree corner at the bottom we had to brake hard for. One of the Behind Bars racers snapped his chain in front of me when we accelerated out of the corner. Thank God that the chain didn't get caught in his wheel or that may have been a close call for me. Somewhere during the final lap I just wanted to take a nap. I could tell I wasn't all there. The wind was blowing harder and the surges were getting more aggressive which meant for a higher alertness and more effort to keep a good position out of the wind. On the approach to the final time up the hill I was in the position I wanted. About 6 wheels from the front and on the outside of the road so I wouldn't get boxed in. A few hundred yards before the 90 corner entrance onto the hill a small group surged and I thought that was the ticket so I went. I had the cardio to go faster but my legs were sending me signals that they were going to blow. I was holding on for dear life the 1st km. My legs were starting to ping and I thought I was going to see the whole peleton ride by, I had to drop off the pace a bit and I watched my chances pull away. That is a bad feeling. Apparently everyone behind me was feeling the same too. When that last 1/2 km kicked up a bit I just stood up and mustered everything I could. 6 guys were ahead of me and I was slowly gaining back up a little to a few of them but it was too late and I rolled in 7th overall 14sec off the winner. I know of at least 2 guys ahead of me that are from out of state, so I was at least the 5th Minnesotan across the line. It was a little disappointing because I know I had the legs this week to win that thing. Oh well, good training, right? I'll call it a weekend with 100 miles of racing in my legs.


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