Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014 Fat Tire Festival

Today was the Fat Tire Festival.  I was nervous as it approached.  My two lap ride a few days ago left me sore in my lower back and quads.  It wasn't until this morning that the soreness was mostly gone.  I was also concerned with riding 3 laps, the trail conditions after the rain yesterday and this morning, riding a unicycle at a mountain bike event, and my usual race jitters.

It was about 70°F, but the humidity started high.  Despite racing Sport class (3 laps), I started behind the Beginners (1 lap) to avoid them all passing me.  I passed a few within the first climb, but they passed me soon after.  In my first lap I had a few more UPDs than I did in my test runs.  I blamed it on race jitters, the humidity, and wet trail.  There were a variations to what I expected the course to be, the most significant being the climb up Helix.  I think they somehow connected Helix and an adjacent trail or something, adding more length.  For a switchback climb that might be better: more horizontal distance up the same vertical distance means less grade.  But in this case the additional trail had significant ups and downs.  So I was outputting more effort than expected and found myself having to hike more than I like, though still not much.

Lap two was as I expected.  The fatigue was hitting my lower back and I questioned why I was there.  At some point I was considering my excuses for not doing a third lap.  I passed by one of the race marshals standing out on the trail, who knew I was doing 3 laps, he said something like, "Keep going, you got one more lap in you!"  That and the other encouragement helped.  At the start/finish line I sure got a lot of attention each time I came through.  Jonah, the announcer, psyched up the crowd for me and I got much applause and praise.  That also helped me push on.  I felt like the humidity drop some, so that was good.

A moment that stands out to me was on lap 2 when I was going down West World.  It's a downhill and has several log steps and tight technical turns.  After the steps, a mountain biker was approaching from behind.  He exclaimed his amazement that I was actually riding this all on one wheel, and we conversed for a few seconds as I successfully rode it.  I'm not out there looking for attention like an entertainer, but I very much appreciate someone who genuinely praises the skill I've worked at, because they are on the trail and can understand the difficulty.  I got a lot of praise from other riders as I let them pass.

Lap three was painful.  The fatigue doesn't just hurt, it makes my reactions slower and I get sloppy, making stupid mistakes.  My quads were threatening to cramp on the steeper hills.  Towards the end I had to give up a few intermediate climbs to avoid it.  I got an especially loud greeting as I crossed the finish line.  I think I was the last to cross, including the 5 lap Experts.

My laps were about as expected, 45-50 minutes each.

Amy came with me and helped volunteer at the finish area.  It's always nice to have my own podium girl waiting for me at the finish.

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