This is kind of long so if you only want to read something funny, skip to the last paragraph.
The June 12th ICUP race at Deer Valley was postponed due to constant rain and muddy trails. We ended up doing the race on Wednesday which was kinda weird. Due to the rescheduling, my week was totally screwed up. I need structure and predictability so this got me out of my comfort zone.
DEER VALLEY. We started at 6PM and a light rain started falling - de ja vu? Nope. It stopped, Ed sent us off and we heading up the infamous, sinister, long and steep Little Stick climb. My group started with the Sport Women and we stayed together for about 2 minutes. At that point Joel Quinn showed his strength, took the lead and we opened a nice gap by the time we hit the top. Joel was about 5-10 seconds in front of me so I was pretty satisfied. He put a little more time in to his lead right after Little Stick but I caught him on the single track descent. We rode together for another 5 minutes and I responded to each of his attempts to put riders between us. On the next long climb he opened a gap and I lost sight of him. I continued to push as best I could knowing I still had a possible chance to catch him on the final descent. I was right. I caught up to him at the top of the 4 short switchbacks before the long straight away that leads to the start/finish line. I followed him for a few hundred yards and made an unsuccessful attempt to pass him on the left. I was stopped by big rocks and has to fall back in behind him. I made a 2nd pass attempt a few seconds later and that one stuck. I kept the hammer down and nipped him by 19 seconds. This was a hard fought and gratifying win and one I was never sure of the outcome. Well done Joel.
SHERWOOD HILLS was run on Saturday and I was not fully recovered from Wednesday. Since my training has been so on and off and sporadic at best, my recovery time is not very quick. I got to SH feeling mentally tired with heavy legs and not a lot of motivation. I got a decent warm up and I'm glad I did because the start was the usual blast off from 80 bpm to 165 in 30 seconds. Oh how that hurts! Joel jumped out to the lead, again, and I got on his wheel and followed with a guy from Arizona on my wheel. We stayed together until the Feed Zone and dropped the AZ guy and took off. I stayed on Joel's wheel for the next 15 minutes, observing, and then passed him on the long double track section after the upper meadow. He got on my wheel at the base of the climb and stayed there till the Feed Zone. I had backed the pace down hoping he'd pass me but he was content following, so I backed it down further and got a little rest on the climb. My HR data showed 160 average for the 1st lap and 166 for the second. About 50 or so feet before the Feed Zone I kicked in to another gear and opened a quick gap on Joel and picked up the pace. Knowing that he's not comfortable on fast descents I picked it up and increased the gap. He would close in on me on the climbs in the trees but he never got back to my wheel. When I got to the upper meadow ahead of him I know I'd increase my lead in the upcoming technical twisty section in the woods, and I did. I got back on the double track and kept the pressure on the pedals. When I got to the top of the 1st climb after the double track I saw he was back a ways, so I upped the pace again. I kept pushing and rode for several minutes above 170 bpm knowing if he was going to catch me he was going to have to suffer more than me. My plan worked and I finished my 2 laps in 59:23, 40 seconds ahead of Joel. Like DV, Joel pushed me hard and I was very gratified with the win.
So as the points now stand, I have about a 83 point lead and a pretty good chance of winning the points championship, something I haven't done since 2005. This will be my last year chancing points since it heavily impacts my endurance training, and I hate the high heart rate thing.
One last thing. I rode Park City Mtn Resort with Garrett and Brittany Kener today scouting out some of the trails for the September Point 2 Point Race. After climbing the Steps Trails we headed to Apex and came across a Sage Grouse in the road. Garrett warned me about their aggressive behavior and how one attached him on a recent ride. Well, I rode up to this bird and as I approached he just stood there facing me, challenging me to give him my best shot. He did not move his position or back down, so I bumped in to him (or her?). That pissed Mr. Grouse off and he came at me with him beak a peckin. I started laughing and jumped off my bike while Mr. Grouse kept attacking my wheel. And he wouldn't stop! Garrett & Brittany we hootin it up while I was jousting with this persistent bad ass Grouse. I was finally able to get back on my bike, but to my surprise, he came after me again. Garrett was downhill laughing and started riding toward me so Mr. Bad Ass got interested in him instead. Garrett and the bird went back and forth with Garrett finally retreating momentarily so he could pick up some speed and safely pass Mr. Bad Ass. When he finally got by I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. We looked at each other in amazement that this 5 pound hunk of kick-ass was ready to take us on. It was unbelievable! Well, we left Mr. Bad Ass on the double track and headed up the Apex Trail. After the first switchback I looked back and that damn Grouse was marching up the hill, taking shortcuts, guns-a-blazing on the attack again. We were amazed and picked up the pace, but Mr. Bad Ass kept coming clearing 3 or 4 trails we had already crossed!!! We were marked riders and Mr. Grouse was gonna have one of us for lunch. I looked around to see if there were cameras filming us cuz I could swear we were in a Steven King or Alfred Hitchcock movie. This was surreal. That bird was not going to give up until he pecked at least one of us. We picked it up again and finally got far enough ahead that he disappeared and we were safe. The next 10-20 minutes was filled with laughter and amazement by what had just happened. As a matter of fact, I'm smiling right now thinking back on it. That was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen and one I'll never forget. So next time you see a Sage Grouse, be forewarned - they're bad asses.
8 months ago