October 8, 2006
I feel like I got hit by a train right now. Some people told me I made it look easy, but if they really knew the amount of suffering I went through today to win the Sheboygan WORS race for the second time in two years, they might think differently. Maybe I do a good job of hiding the pain, they always said Lance hid it so well when he was hurting, but I never thought I did a good job of it.
Well, I really was in pain out there. With the shortened lead out, and 2nd row call up I had to use every inch of the course to make it to the front in top 5 before we hit singletrack and Doug Swanson knew it too. I don't think anyone can start a race faster than Doug and he proved that again today by destroying the first 1/8 mile of leadout and putting many riders in deeper in debt than they could get out of. I squeezed in 5th and tried to keep Doug in sight as we wound through the singletrack, but already the gaps were opening and I new I had to get up there soon or it would be race over. Finally on the back section of course I was able to get by Matter, AJ, and House and used my homefield I've been riding on these trails for 10 years advantage to bring Doug back into control.
We were flying though, faster than I've ever ridden there before, faster than a cyclocross race start and probably more comparable to NORBA short track - except this was going to be a two hour race!!
By the end of lap one I knew that nobody was going to come back to Doug and I, we were working well together and both going gangbusters. I think we both went a little harder than we should have, and paid the price later, but it's almost impossible to bring gaps back down on this course once they're opened so I kept myself from coming unglued with that knowledge.
The laps started ticking by but by midway through the 3rd I could feel the affects of the hot laps and my right hamstring started tightning up.
By the time we hit the start for the fourth it was full on cramping and I was nervous. I took my feed and a gel and hoped for the best. Doug really let loose on the fourth lap and I want to say it was the fastest of any. It was insanely fast, made even harder by the fact that we were lapping huge groups of comp riders at more than twice their speed. I was suffering, cramping, dodging, swerving, and yelling all at the same time just trying to stay with Doug and I was at my limit. I kept telling myself, if you can get through this next section, you'll be able to recover, but Doug just kept the power on and I was cracking. I manged to somehow stay on, a few times because Doug was forced to slow because of traffic, but probably mostly because there were people around almost all the course cheering for me.
Fortunately, at the start of the 5th Doug let me take the lead. If he only knew I was completely cramped in both hamstrings and calves he probably would have ridden away, but I must have been hiding it well. Actually, I had to stand for about 5 minutes of the last lap because my legs were locking up and I couldn't sit down, but finally made it to the single track were I could recover and drink a little more.
I actually came around a bit after that and midway through the last lap we hit some lapped traffic which I was able to cleanly pass, but Doug got tangled up and crashed. There wasn't anything I could do, I felt really bad for him and even went easy for a small section thinking he'd come right back to me, but it was obvious that once a gap like that opens there is almost no way of shutting it down and I had to keep racing.
I was able to hold the gap to the finish and come through 1st for the second year in a row, but it was really unfortunate that we weren't able to actually race to the finish. It's really discouraging, even more for Doug I'm sure, to race for 4.5 laps and then have a lapped rider ruin the race, or for that matter, decide the race. It would have been an ugly battle up the equalizer the last lap for sure had it not been decided by lapped traffic so I guess my legs are happy I didn't have to do that but...
I guess that's the way it is though and I'm happy to have won the hometown race for another year.
Now it's time to put away the mountain bike for good little while and start focusing on some cross. Whens the next race?!
at 9:59 PM