The course and terrain at Afton Alps, site of MNMBS #3, is tough. Throw in 80 degrees with STEAMY conditions - not just humid, straight up water evaporating out of the ground into your face steamy - and you have a tough day in the saddle. Usually at Afton I enter the pain cave at the start and don't come out for a couple days.
From what I hear, our course was right on about 5000 feet of climbing in 4 laps, and the rain the day before left the course slower but not muddy other than a few puddles. TJ Woodruff showed up and really rocked it from the start. Not only is he looking fit, but he is riding very fast. With a good starting position and home course advantage, he should have a strong result at next weekends ProXCT/Subaru Cup. I know he has been priming for it.
Given the warmth, I set my own pace, and for once, didn't pay attention to where anyone was in the race. I just rode the speed that was comfortably hard, and it made the race more fun for me. Jesse and I trade spots a couple times on the first lap, but he too settled into his own pace quickly. The fact that I only had a 42 tooth chain ring up front (I run a 1x10 gearing setup) kept me honest on the hills. Given a smaller chainring, I probably would have dogged it a little more.
Anyway, I held the gap up to TJ at a solid 20-30 seconds for 3 laps, but I faded the last lap with some cramping and lost about a minute I think. Almost 1/4 of the Elite field DNF'd, so that is an indication of how hard it was out there for all of us.
My legs weren't great yesterday, but they certainly weren't horrible. I was pleased with my performance given some lack of motivation (that I mentioned last post) and the difficult nature of the course. As noted above, I did cramped a little but Gu Brew is amazing stuff. I would feel the cramps coming on, down a couple big mouth fulls, and less than 5min later the pings would dissipate.
Equipment note: I ran the Bonti XR3 tires and they hooked up like velcro. The XR3 not a great hard pack tire mind you (taller knobs lay over a little kind of like a Rocket Ron), but in soft conditions they rock! Sara KJ ran the XR2s and TJ was on the XDX. They both said that they were hooking up well too.
We followed up the race with a father's day neighborhood bonfire at my house last night. I managed to drink half a beer before my stomach decide it didn't want any more. Next I tried a light mixed drink. That worked ok...
Thanks to my dad for the hand-ups and never ending support, Jay Richards for the bone chilling water on my back, skinny ski for the pic shown and cool video, and the spectators around the course for all the words of encouragement. Oh, and how could I forget the dude at the water hand up station that kept throwing water in my face rather than on my back, thanks man;)
Now, back to crawling out of that pain cave. I just ate a huge burrito and I am still hungry...
P.S. did any of your see Kevin Ishaug's thumb after the race? What a mangled mess. I think that was harder on my stomach than the race.