I've become so attached again to cycling and mountain biking that I actually dreamed about being in a world cup race last night (2nd best dream, ever).
The dream was obviously facilitated by my somewhat over indulgence of watching all the races from last year's season on youtube and now this season just kicked off with the first race in Albstadt, Germany yesterday (5:48am my time...) and was live on Redbull TV (and I've watched the on demand version twice more since then, so roughly six hours of watching some of the most elite athletes in the world ride courses that would make most guys I know sell their bikes on Craigslist and go hide behind their mommies' skirts. The skill level and physical ability is just plain amazing. It makes even the very top levels of ultrarunning look like a turkey chase at a backwoods carnival. Which brings up the topic of the evolution of ultra and trail running - a topic we'll discuss on Elevation Trail's FM Show this week.
My technical ability since I stopped racing mountain bikes in 2006 has gotten rusty (and that's being kind). I think the crash in January at the Temecula race, and subsequent broken ribs and hand played a part in my tentative riding ability. The obvious solution in my mind was to: 1. Ride more (a difficult prospect with the shitty spring we've had here in CO at least in terms of using technical trails) 2. Practice maneuvers in the way of drills (steep up and especially downhill tight switchbacks make my palms sweat and drop offs don't make me feel very calm either). 3. And, finally, race a lot. I miss racing. I currently race Cat (category, duh) 2 and would like to move up to Cat 1 by next summer (I've always raced in the next highest level that I may not be quite ready for. Some people like to sandbag and linger in a category for a while to dominate every time they race. No thanks, I say. That's douchey and is akin to cherry picking a small ultra race or racing the undercard event with little to no competition (i.e. the 50k at an event featuring a 50 mile distance). I don't mind, and actually enjoy, getting pummeled in races. As a Cat 1 in MTB, I'll even occasionally get to line up with pros and get demolished! Better than beating a bunch of pudgy 40 year olds who are just there racing to get away from the kids for the day.
Two good things on the MTB for me: I love to climb and I love speed. So, during the relearning process, as I pick my way through super technical things, I can make up for it on the ups and downs (one side goal is to hit >65mph on the bike this summer! I haven't had a bike I trust beyond 50mph in a long time, so now's the time). The tech riding takes a balance of natural coordination, courage, and skill. I have the coordination (can stay in a track stand for an hour if needed) but the courage is dented and the skill rusty (like most cars I've owned). It'll get there.
So, another race (or two or three) is on the schedule this weekend. Saturday is the Half Growler 32 mile race and Sunday is the Full Growler 64 mile race, both in Gunnison, CO on technical courses. I'm AMPED UP for these and both have been sold out for a while at 350 riders each. If I live through them, then I get to enjoy the Sage Burner 50k trail run on the third day in a row (Monday). I ran the Sage Burner in 2009 with a semi-mediocre run and finished 7th in 4:48 (I've got "4:30" as my goal time on my elaborate custom 2013 training program - yeah, we'll see how that works out...). After the Growler races it'll be interesting to see how I do (or if I can even line up to start the 50k!).
BIG congratulations to my buddy and resident sociologist at Elevation Trail (and my pacer for the Leadville 100 coming up), Gary David who rocked the American Zofingen Duathlon (5 mile trail run / 84 mile road bike / 15 mile trail run) in 8:19 and 6th place overall!!! In conditions of icy cold rain (anyone who's raced a bike on the road in cold rainy conditions can appreciate this; it's pure misery), he paced and fueled like a champ and it paid off. He put in some solid training, including FOUR HOUR sessions on the indoor bike trainer when the weather in New England forbade human existence outdoors. Super happy for him!
Decent couple of weeks training - 37,000+ ft climb (run/mtb combined) over two weeks and good work on the MTB, including a good ride at Centennial Cone Park on Saturday. Thankfully, my GoPro froze up before I reached the more technical sections of rock step drops and climbs, so the following video is of the tame single track sections.