"Cruise the Blues"
Rode down with Dennis and my mom. Dennis's TomTom navigational device worked like a charm. However, no matter how clever or accurate the device, the human must still attend. Case in point --- a gentle woman's voice came out the speaker, "Turn left point 5 miles." We near the turn. "Turn left," she says, and Dennis blows right by a nicely paved asphalt road.
"We'll take the next one, he says."
"Turn left," she says, and this time he does. Only this time, the road is not paved. Heck, it doesn't even have gravel. It's a dirt strip between farm fields. Dennis whips left with gusto, the Subaru sliding a bit in the greasy mud. He guns it and the mud chunks thump the car body. Discomforting memories of stuck trucks and anticipations of rushing race preparations come to mind, but I'm sitting in back and try to relax. After all, Subarus are all wheel drive and Dennis does a lot of driving, so it'll probably be OK. Eventually we come to the top of a hill and the TomTom sweetly says again, "Turn left." This time we do and although the road looks even narrower and less traveled, at least it's dryer and we head back to the missed asphalt.
We arrive at the venue almost to the estimated minute. Whew. (I'm all for adventure - during and after the race - that is.)
We all get our registrations, watch a slew of kids do the kid loop, and then at high noon, with Ozzy Osborn's Crazy Train blaring over the speakers, head out for our six hours of fun.
The first lap, the trail was pretty muddy, and I worred about Mom. After all, she'd not ridden a mtn bike before as far as I knew and riding one on a greasy trail with a bunch of other riders seemed like a recipe for disaster, but I also knew she was tough and adventurous, so figured she'd get it handled one way or another. Later I found out she fell twice on the second lap, learning that one must NEVER look at the trees, but was no worse for the wear.
The mud build up forced me to stop about 3 times to clear my bike, but I was in no big hurry. I tried to focus on having 6 hours, meaning I didn't have to blow it all up on the first couple of laps to secure my lead. I relaxed, rode with some care and tried to maintain a steady power output. Yeah, I say it like that, because I tried to take it easier on the uphills and a little harder on the downhills. Last weekend, Marc and I did some long road rides with the focus being to maintain steady power instead of spiking it up the hills and recovering on the downhills. The net result of a such a strategy was a higher normative power output over time and feeling as if I'd expended less energy, so I'd decided to apply that to this race.
Eventually, Dennis and I engaged in a friendly game of chase, with him trying not to get caught, which is why both of us quit at 5 laps instead of going for our 6th. When I came in after the 4th lap, my mom and another woman she was chatting with said Dennis didn't rest long and had about 5 minutes on me. They said he didn't want to get caught. That inspired me, so after a banana, bottle reloading, and a bathroom break, I decided to spend everything I had left and see if I could run him down before the end of the 13 mile lap. Two miles in I experienced my first major cramp. It was like a live snake had started twisting around in my right quad. I actually saw the coil move across. "Aiy Yi yi," I hollared and kept pedaling. It faded and altho I took it as a warning, but figured there was no reason to slow down. In fact, if anything, whip it up and get it over with.
Around every turn and at the top of every hill I scanned the trail for Dennis. Didn't see him. Didn't seem doubling back through the trees and I began to think that maybe I wasn't going to be able to do it. But then, the last open hill section about 2 miles from the finish I see him. I speed up to gain as much as I can before he spies me. I know that if he sees me, he'll speed up and my legs are cramping now with every extension. Sure enough, he looks up as he comes around the switchback. I grin and wave. His speed visibly increases. The race is on. I gain up the hill and get within about 30 feet, but he files down the decent. My legs are spinning but refuse to put out much power. He extends his lead and finishes 30-45 seconds ahead of me. As I slow to come through the finish and get off my bike, my legs completely seize up and I'm sure me and the bike are going to simply fall over into the dirt. Fortunately, Cam comes to my rescue, grabbing the bike and somehow I manage to get off and make my way over to the table with my number thing. Then mom comes over and we walk back to the tent, calling it good.
End results: Mom does two laps for a 2nd place finish in the women's 51+. Dennis finishes 5th in the solo men, I win the solo women, and Cam and Josh win the men's team competition. So, it was a great day for the Badger crew.