Sunday, 12 September 2010

Monkey Business

What will likely be the last race of the season for me, was the first race at Annadel for almost 25 years. Another Bike Monkey organised event, the race started at Spring Lake and took a winding, 25 mile route through Annadel's signature, epic trails. The locals turned out in force to make the most of racing some of the finest dirt in the area. Me and Spangles met up with Chris, a new riding buddy who I shared a few tortuous miles with at SoNoMas. Rosson was also there with the rest of the Zeitgeist crew. Riding singlespeed, Jase did another fine job coming 7th in his cat. Race report from him on the Zeitgeist page to follow. We all set off at 9:00am sharp. A couple hundred riders kicking up golden illuminated dust was an awesome sight. I wanted to pause to take pictures, but there was racing to be done...

Unbeknown to us, last week's pre-ride was pretty much on the money. We'd managed to ride most of the trails picked for the race. Starting up Canyon we worked our way to Lawndale. Based on my last couple of rides I was extremely worried about my performance. I really wasn't in good shape at SoNoMas and suffered badly. Last weekend's ride was tough and a clear sign I need some downtime. Since then, I've been working long hours, not resting enough and eating chips with everything. Not ideal race prep. But as we started the steady climb into Annadel State Park, I felt pretty good. My heart rate (always a good indicator as to how a ride will pan out) was in the low 170's where last week I'd been pegged in the 180's. Lawndale was it's usual wide-grin fun. Fast, flowing and, for the most part, shaded, it was a great test of my new Julbo Dirt photochromic glasses. They performed excellently. In fact I barely knew I had them on most of the time.

At the first rest stop I met Chris. We rode together for a few miles until we hit South Burma. Feeling fairly strong, but sleep deprived, I appreciated the pick up in pace to get me through the tough, technical climbs. I don't think I've ever ridden South Burma as fast as I did on the race. Double fisting both grips for extra support I pointed the Nomad south and held on. Such a fun trail, both me and the bike were in our element! Once we'd done South Burma it was onto the final stretch to Rough Go. By this stage I started to wane and lose focus. A couple of rough rock spills and Gu shots later and I was back on track. Ready to hit the crazy boulder garden for one last shred.

I came in (according to Garmin) a whisker over 3 hours. Spangles did another fine job coming in around 2:40. Chris was a little after, and ahead of me. Could I have done it quicker if I'd not been so wrung out from work? Possibly.... But only by a hair, if that. My climbing pace was a little off, but I honestly don't think I've ridden Annadel as fast as I did on race day. My cornering speed was better, I hit the rough stuff with confidence and pumped the track for as much flow as I could get. Still room for lots of improvement. But as a finish to this season's epic racing fun, I'm totally satisfied with my efforts. For now, its back to the usual routine of riding for fun, not preparation. But there's always the cyclocross season coming up.... Rosson assures me I'll like it. And there's nothing quite like the buzz of meeting up with a field full of like-minded people and strapping a race bib to the bars... ;o)

Garmin route and info HERE

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