I am going to try to keep this one short and sweet. As far as races go The Ridgeline Rampage was pretty uneventful… in a good way.
I went into race day with some solid fatigue in my body and legs from a couple of weeks of solid training, including the Firecracker 50. I took a couple of relatively easy days leading up to the race to ensure I could at least give it a go and race hard. My approach to getting ready for the Leadville 100 MTB is quite different than what I did for the Bailey Hundo earlier this year. For the Bailey Hundo I rode a lot of miles and put in consistent intensity week after week. I am not trying to repeat the same thing for Leadville. I’m fit so I am just focusing on remaining consistent and working to build my short effort (1-5′) power to be ready for cyclocross which starts in September. With less than 3 weeks to go I have a couple of long rides planned but will be relying on the daily grind of miles (both riding and running) to get me to the start line ready to rip on August 12th.
The race start was pretty chaotic. I was in the 3rd wave (30-39) and they combined the XC (32 miles) and Marathon (48 miles) racers so we all started together. Being that we were the 3rd wave, behind the pros, singlespeed, and 40-49, I knew we’d be dealing with lap traffic early on. I got on the front of the starting line alongside my teammate Jason. Right of the bat Jason took the lead and jumped on his wheel. I blew a turn pretty early on and one guy came around me so now i was third wheel before hit the first climb.
Right as we got to the base of the climb we started riding through riders the waves ahead of us. Passing was pretty difficult on the singletrack climb but a pack of 4 of us was making it happen. I felt good climbing and I figured it would be easier to pass the traffic on my own instead of being the 2nd or 3rd guy trying go squeeze by. So I went to the front of our group and went for it. I just tried to hammer the rest of the climb and get away… and I did.
I hadn’t had a chance to pre-ride the course so I wasn’t flying on the fast descents but I was hammering all the climbs. Looking back on the climbs I could see my gap was growing any time we’d go uphill. I think I was a little to amped and was riding really hard, likely too hard, trying to get away. Whether I was or not it was working and I was getting away. After the first 16 mile lap I had a 4′ gap. I didn’t know it was that big at the time and I kept the hammer down.
The second lap was pretty uneventful and I just focused on riding steady. I started fading a bit the last third of the lap and knew the final lap was going to be a grind… and it was. I knew I still had a sizable gap so I just mitigated the damage, dialed back my effort, and just made sure I wouldn’t completely crack in the final miles. Even with that approach I completely blew in the final few miles. I was running on fumes and felt a little off my game. I think it was a combination of going out so hard, being fatigued from a heavy training load, the heat, and battling a cold. Luckily my hot early pace and gap paid off and I was able to take the win.
The more I race my mountain bike the more I am loving it. I really can’t believe I ever quit racing my bikes and just ran. I’m pretty sure that will never happen again.
Maggie is getting pro at crewing me at bike races and seeing her beautiful face every lap definitely helps take my mind off the suffering. Fi is really starting to get more aware at races and know what’s going on. The days leading up to the races, whether it’s Maggie or I racing, she starts asking all the time when we are going to go to the races. Seeing her get so stoked and being a part of all it is really awesome. As and added bonus at this race my parents were in town visiting and got to see me race for the first time since 70.3 worlds in 2011. It was so rad to have them there.
Next up is the iconic Leadville 100 mile MTB. I just have about another 7-10 days of solid training then soon enough it will be time to toe the line.