Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Racing this weekend

Sunday is race weekend. Two choices.
#1 of the Virginia Derailer Series or one of the legendary mid atlantic big dogs, The Hoo Ha at Massanutten

The HooHa is one of those races that the mere thought of chills me to the bone. It is a harsh, hard, epic, rocky rooty, fantastically technical race. Up there they put something in the water and everyone from juniors to any local is a mountain bike demi-god.

I've been working pretty hard this year, and should have had this one on my mind for weeks. But honestly just haven't been into it. With the demise of the VA State series, and the long gap of no races, I sort of lost some focus and motivation. And I'm sort of in between bikes and forks right now so doing it on the rigid just doesn't appeal to me.

And for me to go up there, I'd need to be into it 100% to survive.

The VA derailer series race sounds sort of fun. It is much closer, They have a kids race, and a band and BBQ afterwards. Each race is put on by a county parks and rec. Most of them are lap type courses. But don't Ye be fooled. Anyone who thinks a lap course of double track is not going to be hard is in for a surprise. The less technical it is the harder it can be because there is no place to recover. No long downhills to catch a breather, and no tricky tech single track where you have to slow down or risk pinballing into a tree. It's redline all the way.

But I've got a dilemma of which class to race. In all reality I am a Vet Sport. Make no bones about it, I may obsess over training, and am as fanatical about bike setup as an expert, and try and ride myself into the fetal position like an expert but I am sport.

A few years ago I moved out of sport and raced expert just because I thought I should, having been in sport for so long. I wanted "to get my money's worth" by doing the longer courses, etc. and just wanted to say that I was an Expert. And every race I'd ride caboose, and just keep finishing as my only goal. It wasn't much fun.

After coming back to racing last year in the Vet Sport class, it was really fun to actually be competitive in my class. Yes it is nice riding at the top of your class. But honestly, there is no way I can match the speed and distance of the Vet Experts.

But at this race, the Sports do 2 7 mile laps and the experts do 3. I understand the course is pretty wide open double track with some stream crossings. So I am not sure if I want to do the 2 laps or 3 laps for more training.

The real question is what am I doing? What are my goals. If it is to race and do the best I can in my class than I should do the 2 laps. But long term where do I want to be. I think my long term goal is to be a competitive Vet Expert in regional events.

If that is the case than I gotta do some longer races. And also short term the big goal this year is the Rowdy Dawg race, which is going to be 2hrs minimum. So I am sort of leaning towards the 3 laps. And most of the big dogs are going to be at Massanutten, so maybe I'll be a bigger fish here.

So then the question becomes how to race it. There are 2 kinds of races. Investment races, where you ride yourself into the ground with the intent to kill yourself and not to race to win. The other kind of race is a payoff race, where you want your past investments to payoff. In this kind of strategy you might consider some pacing and not go too hard too soon.

I've thought about trying to race it with negative splits, where each lap is faster than the previous. That will get pretty hard come the 3rd lap. But will force me to start slow and finish strong. Another option is to do the first lap at tempo and then kill myself the last 2. And there is always the option that I bet will be followed, which will be go from the gun until I cramp or blow.

I'll be racing on the hardtail/rigid fork. I put a triple crank back with the 8 in back because the chain was dropping in technical sections with just one up front.


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