What: the Red Wing Classic race, event #4 in the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series
When: July 10, 2016
Why: To try a “short” mountain bike race! I decided to enter the “comp” class to get the most time out there – three laps of a decently tough 6.1 mile course.
Who: my Salsa El Mariachi, the Coyote.
My best gear was my tire setup: Bontrager XR2s, tubeless. Good stuff.
My worst gear was my sense of balance, which betrayed me on a tricky off-camber turn early in lap 1, causing a bad crash that screwed up my right hand for a while.
The low points were
- when I crashed,
- when I got so badly dehydrated on lap 1 that I started seeing stars, which were only chased off by pounding three cups of cold water, and
- When I reached the infamous Stairway to Heaven climb on each lap, a steep, straight, rocky bastard. I had to walk it each time.
The high point was when, on lap 3, I felt like my legs had come around and that I’d finally gotten a sense of the course.
It was in the bag when I hit the top of the last climb and knew I had only a few hundred meters to go, finishing in 2:27 for 50th place – third from last and 44 minutes behind the winner.
The key lesson learned was that going hard for 2 and a half hours is fun but totally different than racing a marathon.
The takeaway is that these short races should be part of my “off-season” racing schedule. Many are pretty close to Northfield, all are inexpensive compared to marathons, and each (I learned) is quite different from the others. My lap times got longer through the race: 45:25 on lap 1, 49:58 on lap 2, and 52:15 on lap 3. Gotta get faster.
Note: the photo above is by Todd Bauer, an excellent photographer who covers a lot of bike races! He published a great gallery of photos from the Red Wing Classic, including that shot of me.