What was supposed to be an easy ride turned into a TT effort yesterday. Problem was I had a hard feeling the trail yesterday. I mean Maybury should be a no brainer for me as it's my home trail but I was riding it like it was my first time on the trail. Bike was all over the place. Four pedal strikes in 13 miles speaks for how bad I was riding. Plus I ran off the trail twice.....it wasn't pretty.
Anyway, Diesel and I planned to take the first lap easy and then maybe dial it up for lap 2 and 3. Fast pace but not race pace as neither one of us were in that mood. Diesel led out Lap 1 and we were tooling along talking about his wedding reception this past weekend. For two miles all was calm and fun. But then I noticed our pace was picking up and was going to say something when I saw what was going on. Diesel had quietly reeled some one in. Problem was, the guy wasn't about to let us pass. No worries, I was in 'easy rider' mode. But then the guy lit a match and took off. Of course Diesel went after him.
I had started my day by driving my 35 minute route to work only to get there at 6:30am and realize I had left my bottles, dry mix and bars on the kitchen counter. Ugh. Oh well, looks like I will be going to the bike shop over lunch for supplies. Sue was even nice enough to call me around 7:30am to tell me my cooler was on the counter. She didn't have time in her day to bring it out to me and I would never ask her to as it's an hour round trip...although she would do it if she had time. Good excuse to have lunch with me. So at 11:30 I head out to the bike shop that is about 10 minutes down the road. 30 minutes later I finally get there......WTF, traffic sucked because of the construction. Seth wasn't there but I ended up shooting the breeze with Ben for a bit before hoping back in the car with my new Sweet Bikes bottles, NUUN and Shot Blocks. Drive back was fast but still the trip took an hour. Could have made it home and back in that time. The fuel I got from the shop would work but it wasn't my norm so I was a little upset at myself again for leaving it at home.
As I watched Diesel tear down the trail after this 'not passing me' guy (We'll call him Charlie), I did a mental coin flip in my head on whether to chase or not. I wasn't really in the mood for this buuuuut Diesel had engaged and needed a Wingman. So I opened up the throttle and went into the red to reel them in. It took a good half mile or so to get a visual and I was surprised to see that Diesel was only in missel range of Charlie....to far for guns. Interesting. Is he matching Diesel's pace? I yo yo-ed off Diesel's back wheel for a bit as he tried to keep this guy in sight. I'll admit I was struggling to keep pace as my lines were messy and I was relying more on power than grace to stay in the dog fight. Something felt different in my riding and it was a bad different. I had a couple close calls with trees that I shouldn't have been anywhere near and one boulder that nearly ended my day. I was brake checking waaay more that I should have been in corners and again had to rely on pure power to get back on Diesel's wing.
But the end was near and the three of us bolted up toward the end of the trail full tilt. I was happy we were coming to the end as 99% of the riders we chase like this always stop after an effort like that instead of making the turn to start another lap. We were supposed to be there for fun and I wanted to do continuous laps without stopping but as hard as this guy was pushing the pace I was eager to stop and talk to him a bit and find out who he was. I was third in line as we crested to the trail head. And then it happened, he made the right turn to start another lap. "You've got to be kidding me" I said out loud. Just then Diesel pulled left to let me by and said, "Your turn!"
On the way to the trail from work I got a call from my 6 year old daughter Abigail. She wanted to inform me that I put Ashton's yogurt in her lunch instead of hers. In a normal family this isn't a big deal but like me, Abi can't have dairy. Luckily she knew she wasn't supposed to eat it and wanted to let me know she knew better. "Daddy, it wasn't my soy yogurt. I was Ashton's cow milk yogurt." I was proud of her but at the same time upset with myself as I don't mix up her foods with Ashton and Ciara's......ever. With all my dietary issues I am in tune with what she needs to stay away from. I have been making Ashton's lunches for 6 years now and Abi's for 2 and this was my first big mistake. Ashton is hypoglycemic so he can't have to much sugar. So I have had a good stretch but to make two mistakes in one morning is unlike me.
Because we were expecting to stop at the trail head, another rider had jumped in front of us but quickly realized we were on his six and let us by. I didn't want to just yet as I wanted to wait another couple turns when the trail opened up a bit. But he insisted. So off we went in search of Charlie. I am not sure if he backed off the throttle because he may have thought we stopped but it only took a minute or two until I had a visual again. It was on a switchback that put me 150 meters behind him. As the switchback met up I looked over at him and he looked at me (kind of felt slow motion like a movie) and there was a 2 second stare through each other's sun glasses. The shared feeling was obvious. He didn't want to be caught and we didn't want to be dropped. Diesel was hanging off my back wheel, I couldn't see him but I could hear his bike and knew he would bridge back up once he recovered. I knew better than to wait for him. He would be upset if I did.
I was still riding 'dirty' as my lines were not crisp and I was still relying on power to catch Charlie. I thought by now I would be in race mode but was having a hard time flipping the switch. I even misjudged a rock garden and rode out the side of it and had to plow my way back to the trail.....very uncharacteristic of my at Maybury but Charlie was pushing a hard pace. I had been in these situations before and have been able to respond. I had the legs but where was my head? And for crying out loud I was on my full suspension and not my hardtail. I should be flowing like water down the trail.
I could now see why Diesel was having a hard time with this guy. Not only was he fast, he was fast because he was smooth. He was hitting all the right lines and his cadence was spot on. He was very efficient. Reminded me a lot of me, except I was doing a horrible job of being me even though I had me in front of me to follow. Charlie could have been dragging a chalk like behind him and I still would have misread the trail.
As expected Diesel had bridged back up to us and we were back in formation right before the midway point of the trail, approaching the turn around by the damn. Although I was a mess I was optimistic that I could hold this pace for the second half of the trail. But if Charlie were to make that right turn again and go for round three I was not sure if I could keep this pace up. I had skipped a few 'drink spots' and I was coming up on my feeding time. I would need to find a way to get some shot blocks in me and more fluids before a possible lap 3 at this pace. It didn't help that this was my first experience with NUUN and I likened it to drinking alka seltzer.
Then the unexpected. As we leaned into the turn around at the damn Charlie slowed down and eventually came to a stop. I was surprised and we slowed down and rolled by him slowly to say awesome ride and great pace. He said the same to us and you could feel the mutual respect. Looking back we should have stopped to chat with him but we were on the trail and I wanted to keep going. It appeared Charlie parked at the other entrance and came onto the trail at the midway point so that was his full lap. I was gassed but tried to keep a decent pace for the rest of the lap. I did tell Diesel that I was stopping after that lap for a break to collect my head. It was weird now to not be chasing anyone.
After a brief stop to change bottles from the jersey to the bike we took off down the trail for lap 3 with Diesel at point. It was a pretty uneventful lap but we still pulled a low 29. I felt more crisp, alert and one with the trail but don't know why. Maybe I wasn't warmed up enough when we started chasing Charlie and my body needed a second to catch up and at the break it did. Either way I was much happier with how I rode lap 3.
We decided a 4th lap wasn't needed as the sun was getting low and we would be running out of light. Total trail time was close to 1:27:00 for the three laps. Made me wonder if any of those were in the 28's. Normally I will do 4-6 laps non stop and average just a hair under 30 minutes a lap so to see we averaged close to 29 minutes a laps was nice. Maybe that had something to do with my sloppy riding, I was out of my comfort zone. Hats off to Charlie for pushing us so hard out there. Driving home I regretted not stopping to talk to him. Diesel said we should have stopped to try and recruit him.
Hopefully we'll run into Charlie again soon. However, I think I need to come up with a better nickname for him for our next meeting.