Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cable Off Road Classic Recap

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Ever since Scott and Dan first showed me this race back in 2005, I've loved it. There's something about the idea of a point to point race that intrigues me more than running laps. Or maybe it's the terrain that we cross: loads of singletrack, double-track, fire roads, creek crossing, varied terrain, this course has it all. I really love the singletrack here. The trail can be rough with small rocks or roots and has some nice elevation changes to keep you honest. Passing is pretty manageable and the scenery along the way is great. Plus, Dan has been kind enough to let us stay at his family's cabins about 40 minutes away for the weekend.

I've been itching for this race since this winter. Ever since I made the half-assed commitment to try to train, I've been excited about this 23 mile race. I talked some others into coming along and we were set to meet at my place after work on Friday. We were a go with the cabins and two new guys, Neil and Jeremy were coming along. This would be Jeremy's frist race and a new race course for Neil as he's raced before. We headed out of town to dark blue clouds and some rain.

The drive there was mixed with rain showers and we avoided construction and managed to get to the cabins in a comfortable 3.5 hours or so. Charlotte had a really short nap during the day and we kept her awake until we left so she could sleep the whole way. Which she did.

We hit our assigned cabins and called it a night. In the morning we had pancakes with jelly as we forgot to bring syrup. No matter! Strawberry jelly was very delish.
The weather was looking to be awesome. Very little rain overnight and it was kinda warm out. We arrived at the race and got checked in. The staff at this race have always been warm and friendly. This year was no exception. There wasn't much time for warmup, so we tried to position ourselves in the start chute.
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The place was already packed so we resigned to hanging out at the rear. The first mile and a half is going to be dirt road anyway. We managed to move up a tiny bit, but nothing significant. Maybe preferred start next year??

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The announcer mentions that we have 1 minute to start and Neil decides that he has to tighten his cleat. He pulls out the wrench and goes to work, only to find out that he loosened it! 30 seconds! Some guy helps him out and he gets it a little tighter, just in time for the sound of "GO!". Whew...

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We tear off up the road and I'm right next to Dan as we weave our way through the pack. We're making a ton of passes when some guy decides to move left without checking and almost forces Dan into the woods. Dan lets him know he's there, but it didn't matter. We go around and make some more passes. Suddenly I'm losing Dan as he powered around someone and I got cut-off. I see him and try to close the gap, but we're coming up to the singletrack entrance and it's already stopped as people try to get in. I can't close the gap to Dan and I watch him go on ahead of me into the woods. We're literally standing still as we wait our turn to get started on the singletrack. A course worker yells for us to stay in order and we all look at each other like "what order is that?!", and someone yells, "you mean numerical order?!". We chuckle and continue to wait. After about a minute and a half we're onto the trail. Right away I can tell the Taurine is feeling good. We're handling the bumps just fine. We're steering quick around corners and feeling the need to pass. I remembered back to the Spring Cup and how easy it was to accelerate with the Cannondale, so I tried it again. Sure enough the power was there when I wanted it, so I started to make some passes. Everyone was really cool about letting people by and making room. I made quite a few passes and was able to keep my pace up. One we hit the dirt road sections I managed to stay strong and felt better than last year.

The pink mile markers were ticking by pretty quick. I hit the first rest stop feeling pretty good, but I took some water anyway (cough, cough, Scott! cough, cough). Along the way I had manged to take some hits from my CarbBOOM flask and was even drinking my water/HydroBOOM. Climbing was great and the trail was in great shape. It was pretty much the first time I had ridden it dry and I was really enjoying it.

I pressed on, trying to keep the pace high. More CarbBOOM, more water, "on your left,", big ring, no brakes, stand up, shift down, "on your left", things were going well.

Pretty soon I'm at 15 miles and remembering how I felt last year. Like crap. Slow. Getting passed. This day, at 15 miles, I was still passing and my legs felt good.
I was eating up the singletrack and it felt good. Everything was feeling good!

Much to my dismay, it was time for the long straight shot home. 2 miles of straight, flat (although it feels like a false-flat) dirt railroad grade. You can see all the way down, racers littered here and there, battling with the wind (it's ALWAYS windy, like a friggin' tunnel). Today was no different. I thought about latching on with a small group ahead of me, but they were too slow, so I used them for a draft as much as I could and then went around. I was in the big ring and kickin' the RPMs up. I was passing more and more people, but the wind started to take it's toll and I was feeling a bit tired. That's okay though, cuz it's the end of the race. As I passed a group someone latched on. I could see his wheel and tried to pick up the pace a bit more. Now I'm hurting. 1 mile to go. For a second I wondered what Tracy and Charlotte were doing? Is Dan finished yet? Here's what they were doing...

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And yes, Dan is finished already,
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"Keep it up!" I hear from behind me. It's the dude on my wheel. I must have slowed a bit while daydreaming. I kicked it back into gear and could see the turn off. There's a tiny section of singletrack and then we're on the road to the finish. We hit the pavement and I'm sure this guy is going to step around me since he has room, so I stand and try to make it harder for him. He doesn't and stays on my wheel. We make another turn and I can see the flags and the finish line. I stand again just in case he tries his move. It doesn't happen and I lead him across the line.

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And we're done. The great race that is The Cable Off Road Classic is in the books. The dude who helped me stay on task during the road section thanks me for the pull. I tell him I was sure he was going to come around once we hit the road and he said he couldn't have.

I find Dan and we immediately start talking about the course, downed trees, quick-sand-like portions of the course and just how much fun this whole thing was. Once again I'm impressed with the new bike. It handles awesome and delivers the power when I need it. I'm not sure if it's my best time at this race, but I for sure feel better afterwards and was passing much deeper into the race than previous years. It's all good.

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A little later Neil rolls across the line and a quick post race chat reveals that he had a great time out there. His new bike (Specialized Epic) seemed to work wonderful for him and he seemed all smiles.

Due next was Jeremy. He had anticipated a sore leg, so he wrapped his knee before the race just in case. We waited for him near the finish line and soon the area started to clear out. I decided to ride backwards to see him. I rode the full length of the dreaded railroad grade and waited at the corner. Nothing. I headed back and saw Dan coming at me. Still nothing so we headed back to the finish, where they were starting to tear down the equipment. I asked the timers if they had everyone in. They said there was one unaccounted for. I asked for the name and told them he was with us and we hadn't seen him yet. They directed us to a group of guys with radios who were on the course. They checked and thought maybe he was brought to the start because of a crash or something. We gave them Jeremy's number and the made a call. Nothing. Meanwhile the sweeper came across the line. That's not good. Someone else came over to help and was going to make an announcement at the awards ceremony just in case. And then, wouldn't you know it, here comes Jeremy down the finish straight! Woohoo!!
Turns out his knee started to bother him and he had no power at all in his right leg and had to walk almost every hill. He managed to make it through everything and pressed on to finish the race with a sore and swollen knee. Nicely done dude! We cringed when he told us stories of how it would hurt, get swollen. Then we decided to tell everyone there was a bear attack involved and that's why his knee was sore. It was a big grizzly, but he managed to wrestle it down into submission.

The rest of the weekend was spent at the cabins, making a fire, running from the rain, drinking beer, eating at a local bar/grill, riding the pontoon and eating more pancakes....with syrup this time.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Work Gentlemen! Wish I was there!


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