When one has not ridden one's mountain bike for 8 weeks and one goes to one of the twistiest courses around, one should expect to get spanked. As my expectations were well in line with reality, I came away from the Trail Spinners Fair Hill Classic at peace with, if not ecstatic about, the result.
After the disastrous muddy glopfest that was the Granogue 12 hour, both psyche and bike were scarred. The bike was relatively easily fixed with new derailleur jockey wheels and a headset replacement. The mind took a bit more, as it had learned to equate "riding a mountain bike" with "uncontrollably sliding sideways off of bridges and landing wrong side down in a stream bed" and other such atrocities. At 24 miles, the Fair Hill Cat 1 course is also long and fearsome. "Fast" races usually average about 10 mph on a course like that.
The Fair Hill start is a particularly wondrous affair, with a sprint fading into a VO2 max effort, after which you have about a 2 second breather before going into the trees. Apart from the beginning bit and a few brief transitions, the course is entirely in the woods and probably 90% single track (maybe more). The start works out fine for me, I can deal with that effort, and chose a spot at the back of the front group. I could go harder and get to the front, but then I would be unintentionally blocking the faster guys behind me in the singletrack. The goal of these races, for me, is to challenge myself and push my limits, not to stay ahead of as absolutely many people as possible by any means available. There are a few guys I know like Chris from Bike Line who know the hell out of that course, are fast, and are good to follow. Staying with dudes like that makes me ride faster, the whole pushing my limits thing, which if I ever got any consistency with time on the mountain bike I could consolidate into being a generally better rider and racer.
So there were turns and twists and turns and twists and I hit the occasional tree and the clock turned past 2 hours and holy shit was the world still moving by at relatively fast pace and how did we get on this side of Telegraph Road anyhow, and oh only a half mile left? Good because my back is really starting to tighten up on me here (got to fit in some freaking core workouts or else this will be one painful ass cross season) and hey here's a pack right in front of me maybe it's someone from my field blowing up (no such luck) sprint sprint sprint in case anyone's coming and wow glad that's over.
Thus ended mountain bike season 2013. It wasn't too action packed of a year but it was a good first year in Cat 1. As much benefit as I think there is in racing all the different disciplines that I do, it's definitely to the point where having my feet in so many different circles is compromising how well I'm able to do in any of them. At the moment, I had a wicked fun time on Saturday so I'm thinking "oh definitely make the big mountain bike focus for next year." And I feel like if I spend a whole ton of time on my mountain bike this winter, especially doing the mtb group rides and stuff, actually get to the head of the class in my age group. It seems a little far but it's not, especially when you're me and your deficiencies are in handling not fitness, because handling skills reinforce fitness advantages - all of a sudden your laps times are dropping by huge chunks and you're competitive. That's how it happened in 2012. But now I'm going to go to Green Mountain so road will have final say, and if that is a lot of fun again (and hopefully I don't flat before App Gap again this year), then I'm going to be all "oh, definitely road!"
I have the attention span of a mosquito.