Saturday, 2 June 2012


A couple of years ago I did SoNoMas and, frankly, hated it. I spent more time pushing my bike in agony than riding it with a grin. So I resigned myself to never doing it again. Or so I thought..... I've still not blown the cobwebs away from working looong hours and then doing location work. And now that I've ticked over 35 on the tachometer I'm finding it harder than normal to get my arse back in shape. This need for some punishing rides, coupled with BikeMonkey's offer of a shorter (24 mile) course had me filling out the online registration and driving me and the Nomad to lake Sonoma early this Saturday morning.

Even though I'd signed up for the "beginners" course, I still expected a brutal challenge. 24 miles isn't a huge distance, but we'd be climbing 5000ft of tough, steep, anaerobic singletrack. So as we rolled out en mass, I took it easy and used the initial road climb to warm up gently. Not wanting to spike my heart rate and induce any pain just yet. My main concern was cramp, so I had a camel bladder full of undiluted Gatorade. The first sip made me wince with it's sugary sweetness. By the end I craved water and hated the taste of artificial berry goodness.

The short route meant we bypassed a fair chunk of the 35 mile course near the beginning, before rejoining for the last two thirds or so. This meant getting in the way of the uber fast long riders and having to dive into the shrubbery to let them past. Frustrating I'm sure for them and a constant annoyance for me. But unavoidable due to the geography of the place. I was enjoying the riding though. The first time I did SoNoMas it was so traumatic that I couldn't appreciate the singletrack very much. But today, knowing I didn't have such a marathon task ahead, meant I could focus on the riding and soak in the flowey singletrack. Mainy open and grassy, or tight and wooded, the trails were fun. Not awesome by Annadel or China Camp standards, but a decent compensation for the constant bursts of climbing we had to do.

My plan of taking it easy and pacing myself worked well up until around mile 18 or 19. And then I could feel an all to familiar squirm in my quads. By the mile 20 aid station my legs were locked in contorted spasms of cramp. This continued for another couple of miles making the climbing miserable. I started to get frustrated - with myself for cramping despite all the pre-electrolyte loading I'd done - and with the poor Nomad. Stripped of lube from a half dozen creek crossings and caked in dust I cursed as it dared to squeal and groan in protest.

Fortunately my suffering was short lived. The climbing was done and we had one last descent before the home stretch. Feeling glad I hadn't signed up for the long race option, and enjoying the rocky technical features of the last trail, I popped out of the singletrack and returned to the finish line via a final road stretch. My Garmin hitting just shy of the 4 hour mark as I reached the end. Utterly spent but feeling pretty good.

I'm starting to realise with the racing shizzle that I'm better off sticking to those that better reflect the type of riding I actually enjoy doing. Anything longer than 3 hours in the saddle becomes a serious grind for me. Don't get me wrong, I like the satisfaction of earning my descents, but the descents are why I ride. Races like SoNoMas are awesome for those that like pure XC and have the bikes and legs for it. But that's just never going to be me. Still.... Annadel and Downieville are coming up soon. Hopefully today helped lay down some fitness foundations for those beauties.

The pictures of yours truly are by Nick Gaetano and the talented fellas at Daydreamer Creative Cinema These guys are doing an awesome job of photographing the Bike Monkey events. More of their work can be seen in THIS SoNoMas race report by Red Kite Prayer (which also includes a picture of some fella pulling a half arsed manual across the finish line....)  ;o)

1 comment:

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