Monday, June 2, 2008

"The Burn" MTB Time Trial

Soaking up the sun (and a quart of Recoverite) after the race.

The weather forecast for the day of the race was just about ideal - 75 degrees and sunny. It did not disappoint. I left Fort Collins in plenty of time, I thought, to make the 9AM pre-race meeting at the Castle Mountain Rec Area (aka Buffalo Creek) 11 miles south of Bailey (which is about 25-30 miles SW of Denver). But, it turns out the last 10 miles into the Rec Area is a washboard dirt road which really slowed me down, so I ended up just missing the meeting. No worries, another racer who'd heard the whole thing said if I'd read the web page (which I had), I had all the info.

Much of the Castle Mountain Area has burned in several forest fires over the last dozen years. It's this fact that required that the race be in the somewhat unusual format (for a mtb race) of a time trial. Riders headed out on the 22 mile (14 for beginners/sport women) course at 30 second intervals. Spacing everybody out like this was intended to minimize passing on the single track (and thereby widening it) in the sensitive burned areas. All racers were also asked to announce passes and yield to those passing them in an effort to minimize impacts. From what I saw, this format worked and the trails were none the worse for wear after the race. _Every_ rider I came across was very considerate of these requirements.

The course itself was a mixture of single track, double track, and dirt road. Much of the single track wound through the burned areas (think Bobcat Ridge outside Loveland, if you've ever ridden there). It's really a pretty unique experience to ride in a place like that. The single track for the most part was relatively smooth, but had a number of fun tight turns. There was only one place where I got off to walk/run around a big boulder and through a rock garden. There was a good amount of climbing over the 22 miles. Somebody said 2500 ft - that sounds about right.

Now to the race. It started out with a _fast_ downhill on a rutted dirt road. I don't know how he did it, but the guy behind me made up almost all of the 30 secs I had on him during this first downhill (which only lasted a few minutes). Guess I need to work a little more on that aspect of my riding. After the first fast downhill, there was a variety of up/down and single/doubletrack over the next 8 or so miles. I lost some more time in this section in the fast singletrack twisties (another skill I need work on). The low point of the course (topographically speaking) came at mile 11. Except for another mile or so downhill section, the final 11 miles of the course was a fairly steady climb to the finish. The last couple of miles finished with a granny gear climb on the rutted dirt road we'd started on (going up this time instead of down). Unfortunately, since climbing is _definately_ a skill I need to work on, I lost some more time in this section of the course.

I ended up finishing 23 out of 25 in my cat, in about 2 hrs 10 mins. This was well off my goal of midpack (and dangerously close to DFL). But on the bright side, I didn't crash, didn't injure myself, didn't cramp, didn't bonk, found a cool new place to explore, and had a _lot_ of fun. I'd say that was a successful day :^)



Marty said...

Nice work, Darrin! I suspect that race is way harder than it looks. And if you ever want to go ride down there, call me up! I'm a huge fan of that place.

susan p said...

If we could combine our skills...we'd be at the top of our fields!