Huge turnout!  105 racers.
Photo credit: David Ogletree
Hey guys....it's been a while.  Since the last race post in Meridian about a month ago a few things have transpired.  Wendi and I attended a BetterRide clinic in Birmingham at the end of March.  I am slowly writing a comprehensive blog post for the clinic so stay tuned.  We had a great time and learned that we have a long way to go with technical skills.  The last ride of the last day of the clinic I ran out of talent (thanks for the term Sean!) and bruised a rib.  This was really bad timing considering I had been planning on riding the Ouachita Challenge the following weekend.  It also turned out that I was closing on my house and had to move just days before the race.  Needless to say I skipped the OC but I ended up getting a really expensive t-shirt.  Next year.


Example week of training
on Drew's plan
With the sore rib I eased back into getting my base back and got back on plan.  I had a really good experience using Drew Edsall's 8 week off-season base plan so I decided to go with his 12 week CAT2 in-season plan.  It dictates 6 days a week and around 8-10 hours per week which is very similar to the off-season plan.  One cool feature he adds to this plan considering it isn't a custom plan is two sets of workouts per weekend.  One set is for race and the other is for non-race weekends.  The other slight difference between the in-season vs. off-season plan is the off-day switches from Monday to Friday respectively.  I love being on a plan as it gives my rides purpose and structure but it does make social riding with friends a little more challenging.  I need to be more diligent with trying to stick to weekday intervals and still riding with the team.

Spare wheelset with gnarly tires
Ok, ok....on to the race!  The weekend before the race, Wendi,  Jeff Christie and myself headed up to Mt Zion on Saturday morning to get some pre-riding in. The trail was in really good shape and rolling fast. The first lap I rode pretty hard and started figuring out some of the new sections on the north end of the trail.  For the second lap I swapped to my spare wheelset which I mounted a 2.25 Ardent up front and a 2.1 Ignitor in the back. The Meridian race last month taught me that my standard setup of 2.2 Ikons front and rear are really fast but suck on anything other than hardpack or slightly loose over hard.  The Ardent 2.4/Ignitor 2.1 setup on my singlespeed is awesome so I figured I'd do the same.  The verdict is that this provides much better traction but is a whole lot slower due to a heavier wheelset (ArchEX/Hope) and more rolling resistance.  This should be a good compromise for poor conditions.

Had a great week of training rides both on the road and a team trail ride on Wednesday night.  The day before the race Wynne and I headed up to Zion early in the AM to get an easy lap in.  Kept the heartrate low and tried to find the flow. Legs felt great and bike was pretty dialed.

Let's get this thing rolling
Photo credit: Paula Polk
Woke up early on Sunday, ate some oatmeal and yogurt and hit the road.  Got to the race about an hour early, kitted up and made the rounds to spend time with friends.  Instead of spending a lot of time trying to get my cardio warmed up I instead spent most of my pre-race time working out technical skills to warm up the brain.  In cross-country races, we'll typically be called to line up for the start and then sit there for 30-45 minutes waiting on race organizers to get situated and for CAT1 guys to get off the line.  For this reason I really don't think there is a lot of benefit to getting warmed up really well. We had a pretty good size group of 9 guys in CAT2 30-39 at the line, including some fresh faces that made it down from Memphis. Shane Easterling was clearly going to be the wheel to hold considering this was his home trail.


Pretty sure this is where I was getting
run down on the second lap
We bolted off the line and I filed in 4th behind Raland.  Shane was up front and set a blistering first lap pace that we all killed ourselves to try and match.  I finished the first lap in 3rd but didn't have the race leaders in sight. After completely blowing up in the first lap trying to keep up, I really struggled in the second lap just to maintain.  Somewhere along the way I was passed and ended up coming in 4th. By the end of the race my lower back was killing me.  This is something that had been bothering me a bit for the past couple of weeks, but I couldn't really determine what the source of the problem is as I haven't changed anything as far as bike fit goes.  I'm going to start making some small adjustments, stretching and core strengthening to see if I can get it gone.

Next race is the Skyway Epic in Sylacauga, GA which I am really looking forward to.
Singletrack, gravel, singletrack.....yum!

Ride on.

                                   Click here to see my Strava activity for this ride.  Race results can be found here.