Plan A was to conserve energy on the initial run-up, use the climbs to secure a mid-pack position, and then tear up the final flat back to the finish.
So I was happy to hear the race director ask that the segment from the start to Wood Canyon be a neutral roll-out. Everyone seemed on board with that plan, so I didn't struggle to keep up, but I started to worry when I noticed that my HR was already 170. Either it was adrenaline, or I'd have to back off at some point.
I started sliding back in the pack pretty quickly once we reached the Wood Canyon Trail. The pace picked up substantially, and I ultimately had to accept that if I wanted to have the legs for Cholla and Mathis, I'd have to let them go.
After that, my race was mostly a solo time trial.
But I did everything I came to do. I finished with the pack (Final result: 16th of 18), rode a strong race (for me), and I feel like I used well the skills I've gained in the last few months.
That's a good day in my book.
Lessons from Past Races
I got my bike maintenance in order, got a solid warm-up, and avoided going out too hot, or redlining at the start of the climbs. So I feel like I avoided repeating past mistakes.
Training in the Morning
This definitely helped. At the 7:30 AM race start, I felt completely awake, warmed up, and ready to ride. Entirely different from how I felt at Whiting Ranch.
I can't even imagine what yesterday would have been like had I not put in the time climbing. I needed every bit of endurance and recovery that I gained from those workouts.
The skills work and pre-riding the course made a huge difference. I was totally comfortable on Rock-It, which feels really good considering that just a few months ago there were bits of this trail I was scared to do at all.
I'm a stronger, better rider because I decided to do these races. Six months ago, I would have struggled to complete the course. Yesterday, I had a fun morning of racing, and will be back next year to ride the whole course clean.
Where to Go from Here
As expected, this race served primarily as a chance to get my bearings as to where I sit in the Sport class. Answer: At the back.
As Jocko would say: GOOD.
That makes it clear that I need to pick up minutes, not seconds. Short answer: drop 12 lbs, hit the weights, improve cornering & technical skills.)
But I have a few other things on my mind for the next couple of weeks. So for now, I'm going to focus on that.