Is This A Logo??

Is This A Logo??

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

OCup #1 - Woodnewton - Race Review

And so starts the 2016 OCup Season....

Promoted and run again this season by Superfly Racing...always professional and well organized.

As you may have guessed from my last post...this race series had me worried, reticent....terrified???  So...not to flog a dead horse (who does that????) and cover the reasons all over again, repeating myself, to remake a point already explained...anyways, yes, I was scared.  At the urging of my 'friends'...stepping up a category to Master Expert, to race in a category I'm not sure I belonged in, because apparently, it would be good for me.

So...Giant and I head up to Woodnewton on Saturday, the day before the race to pre-ride and practice the course with CoachRob.  It's a wonderful, warm, sunny day!  A lap at CoachRob pre-ride pace (which equals Master Metis race pace), learning the lines through the technical pieces, and trying to become more adept at the tight twisty bits.  Again, as I've mentioned the tight twisty single track is my weakest CoachRob followed me through some sections...picked up some significant flaws in my 'technique'...and provided pointers that I seriously took to heart.  One of the fastest guys around, CoachRob knows his mountain bike racing stuff...he's riding a single speed rigid this year just to add to the his advice means something to me.

A second pre-ride lap with Giant to nail everything ready as we are going to be for the race on Sunday.

So...Giant and I head up to Woodnewton on Sunday, race day.  It's cold, and raining....of course.  We get there just in time to catch the Sport cat finishing.  There are serious, and Unglued...telling us the course is in mostly great shape, just a couple of slick spots, despite the rain.  Both of them have had good races.  And there was JeffS, warming up in his winter parka and snorkel gear..."Riot!!", he calls out..."Ready for your first Expert race??"  I guess...

So...get ready, warmed up...then eventually make my way to the paddock, to join my competition (not that I will be considering myself competition...).  In fact I am sure this is how I looked in the start paddock....

Or maybe...

Anyways...that's how I felt.  Then someone turned to me (I don't remember who it was, it could have been Terry, maybe Glenn, not sure...I don't recognize these guys from in front)...and said, "So, this is your first time in Expert...welcome!!"  How does he know??  (Apparently, someone other than my mom, and cat, read this blog??)  Anyways, a chorus of 'welcomes', and handshakes from the group....

Actually, I've mentioned before the high quality, and high number of good people in this sport...and this was just another example.  Of course, doesn't mean they wouldn't do their best to trounce me...this is a very competitive series...just that they would do it with honour.  And they the start...

Probably the fastest start I have been in in any race.  The leaders were gone!!  My plan was to hang back a bit anyways, confident enough to know I had no right to be over confident, I wanted to see how this unfolded....but I know I couldn't have started that fast even if I wanted to.  I started at my start pace, and settled in dead last as we pulled from the start loop, into the first single track.  There were a couple of quite slick spots on the course...but the rain stopped about half way through lap 1, then the course firmed up very nicely.

ApexTed was out on course taking great action shots for ApexRacePhotography...(if you want a great laugh, look for plate 504 and scroll through...seriously!!)

 Jeremiah whipping through a berm...

Jesse is a Machine!

Shadow in the sink...

Ooops!!  Sorry!!

Anyways, for about the first half of lap 1, I was last out of all the racers on the 1:30 start time.  Then, somewhere on lap one I passed a racer...and longer dead last.  Lap 2 passed another...and another....some of them were from a younger category...but at least I wasn't last of the entire world anymore.  Then on lap 2, the young elite racers started lapping me, passing like I was a statue...about a half dozen lapped took the time to mention to me, "Hey, nice bike!!  Very cool bike!"  Haha!!  OK, then...too bad it wasn't faster (well, it is faster than I am!).

And so it went...I pushed to my an effort to do my best to not 'not belong'.  Redlining to my heart rate max, while negotiating the technical features...doing my best to follow CoachRobs instructions through the twisty single track...attempting to attack the climbs (ton of climbing on this course!!).   A small group was gathered near the top of one climb, cheering racers on, before the single track descent into the the gnarly rock garden near the end of the loop.

We had practiced lines through this rock garden on our pre-ride.  But by the end of lap 1, I couldn't see straight enough to care...I sped up, leaned my weight back and hammered through...bits of titanium and rubber spraying off my bike.  There was a crowd of spectators gathered around, watching for crashes...some of them dove for cover, as I slammed by.  I'm sure on one lap someone yelled out, "It's Metis mayhem!!"

The Rock Garden

Junior racer TheMexican floats over the rocks like he's wearing water sandals...

One of my concerns, was the 4 laps in Expert (Sport class does 3 laps), and while the 4th lap hurt and the quads and back tightened up more than they did when I raced Sport, it wasn't a deal breaker.  My training is geared for the endurance races...6, 8, and 24 hour a 4th lap wasn't a real crusher...of course it was even slower than the other 3 were.

In fact, struggling up the final climb in the 4th lap...I saw a younger racer in front of me...close enough to catch...I stood up to punch it...but he looked back and saw me coming...he bolted...I kicked to catch him...but as I did I looked down at my garmin.  Heart rate at max is 180.  I don't know if my HR monitor was glitching or not...but I thought it wasn't worth finding out.  I eased back down to a redline of 173 and through the rock garden one last time (the crowd had cleared out...everyone they came to see was already done)...and across the finish line at 1hr 55min.  11th out of 14 in my category.  Not dead last...and I survived.  

There was Oggie, Guy, and Bevin....finished a good 10 minutes ahead of me.  But with a hearty congratulations and handshakes...(It's OK Oggie, I won't tell anyone about the hug).  Did I mention how many good people in this sport??

Kudos to all who made the podium.
I know a few friends DNF'd...but a long season is ahead with better times to look forward to.

And now...I am motivated to get better at this category...maybe feel a little more at home each race...
Actually, I find it very motivating to work my way up from this point.

And Oggie summed the day up perfectly...  "It was a great race at a great venue. Organization was perfect as usual. Great bunch of people with the same passion towards biking. Some great heckling from the side and friendly banter from within the race. Everyone had fun and no one was injured. Next couple of weekends will be the deja vu."

Not this guy...I will be working at this game!!

So what's next??  Well before OCup #2 in two weeks...there are races this weekend, May 7th for you to choose from!

Depending on your preference to race, or perhaps proximity to where you live...

If you prefer the XC Marathon style race (60+ kms) there is this...

The Spring Chicken Enduro, is run out of Beachburg, Ontario...a short jaunt north of us.


If an endurance relay race is more your style, then check out the Fox Epic 8 Hour Relay race, at Mansfield, Ontario.

Decide fast!!  I believe tomorrow is the deadline to sign up for either one!!

I'm registered and will be getting ready this week.  (I'm wondering if the organizers know May 7th is also World Naked Gardening day, and how I can work that into this race...)

Details in Thursday's post.

Stay posted!!

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