Tuesday, October 13, 2009

6 Hours of Addison Oaks Race Report

We had a rare bit of sunshine last weekend, just in time for my last endurance race of the year. The day started out fairly well. Miraculously, I didn't get lost on the way to the venue and arrived with plenty of time to get ready. I parked in the pit area and registered. There was only one other woman registered for the 6 hour race, but it was still pretty early, so I thought that would probably change.

My race preparations didn't go so well. Chris had switched out my saddle the night before and yet again, I found myself scrambling at the last minute because I hadn't prepared well enough. The angle of my saddle didn't seem right and I tried without success to adjust it on my own. Ha! I couldn't get the screws to turn at all. Finally, feeling pathetic and girly, I broke down and asked the guy parked next to me to help. He didn't really understand how to do it either, though, so I finally gave up.

By the time I lined up to start, there were four women waiting to race the 6 hours. I didn't recognize any of them, though, and I didn't know any of their names, so I had no idea whether or not I was racing against any of the women who were close to me in the Michigan Endurance Cup standings. I hung out in the back, but remarkably, there were a few people behind me as I rolled over the grassy section on the way to the trail. Even so, they all passed me on the first uphill. My legs felt like lead as they usually do at the beginning of a race, so I just relaxed and settled in for a long, slow ride.

About two miles into the lap, I realized something was terribly, terribly wrong. My lower back was screaming in pain and it was all I could do to keep pedaling. I know my core isn't that strong, but usually my back just gets tired—there isn't actually pain. I had a sinking suspicion that my saddle was the culprit. I would be lucky if I could finish one lap.

I slogged through the rest of the lap extremely slowly. By the end, I was walking all the uphills. I could barely ride at all anymore. As I pulled through the checkpoint, Brent (the race promoter) gave me some encouraging words. I asked him to direct me toward the neutral bike shop support tent, but as it turns out, the guy who was supposed to be providing the support was out racing. Brent kindly took me over to the bike shop tent to make use of their tools and adjusted my saddle for me.

When I got on the bike again, I immediately felt the difference. Stopping for just a second at the pit area to top off my water, I started another lap. It was such a relief not to have an awkward saddle that was causing excruciating back pain that I felt awesome. It was a gorgeous day and though it was a bit cool, I warmed up fast. I was having fun going over all the little obstacles, enjoying the trail and just loving the ride. My race had been saved.

After another very short break, I started my third lap. By the time I had ridden a mile, I was exhausted and could barely get my legs to keep pedaling. What a disappointment! I knew I wasn't in optimal shape, but I didn't think it was that bad. I really just think it was so exhausting to slog through that first lap in pain that I got worn out faster than I would have otherwise.

When I finally finished the third lap, I went back to my car for a rest. I had already planned to leave an hour before the race was over because I had to get back to Lansing. I knew if I was going to make it through another lap I would need to take more than a short rest. After a few calculations, I realized I didn't really have time for another lap if I wanted to leave on time. It was an easy decision not to go back out again.

It was a pretty disappointing race, not only because I didn't do well, but because I'm still making the same stupid errors in judgment I was making earlier in the season. If anything, it seems I'm less prepared for races than I was before. Not only was I undertrained, I made really dumb choices by not having my saddle changed sooner so I would have time and help adjusting it prior to the race. I have one mountain bike race left this season. I will be ready for Iceman. I know I won't be able to improve my fitness that much before the race, but I will make sure my bike is ready.


Christopher Averett said...

There is still time to make a difference for Iceman. Concentrate on your form, mechanical issues and the bike fit. As you said nothing is worse then a seat that is not set right. Now imagine that your rear derailleur is all out of whack or your brakes sequel or rub. Taking care of just those little things will help you greatly over the 27 mile course. Keep moving forward.

Jake said...

At least you made it to the race. I haven't even been on my bike. How did the Badger feel overall?

Andrea said...

Jake--You've been doing way more riding this year than a lot of us--you deserve a break.

Except for the saddle issues, the Badger is awesome--it makes me feel a little invincible, which is helping my confidence on the bike a lot.

Ali B. said...

I agree so much with Chris... Last weekend G put a new rear D on my bike, new shifter/brake units & WOW. My life is a world better. That and a slight saddle move & he fixed that rear brake rub. What a difference. Keep your chin up, you definitely have time to improve for Iceman! :)