Sunday, April 26, 2009

Avoid races with words like "punisher" in the title

I should have known it wasn't a good sign when the name of the race was "Prescott Punisher." This was the 5th race in the MBAA mountain bike series, held on April 4th. It was good we were leaving Tucson as the winds and dust storms were insane.
We got to Prescott in time for dinner, just as snowflakes were falling. Wonderful! I hand to dig through all of my clothes to even pack for this race to find all of my cold weather gear again. We went to dinner with Liane and Nate, and I was wearing 3 layers. This is not a good sign for race day.
On race morning I threw on a windbreaker, ear warmers, and tights over my regular biking clothes. Oh, and my winter gloves, even though I couldn't feel my hands. Hands aren't necessary for mountain biking are they? Liane and I had dressed in matching "We're too friggin' cold" outfits for the race.
Our wave took off, and we started climbing on a Jeep road that led into the forest with more climbing. We hadn't pre-ridden the course, so didn't know what to expect. We finally hit a small downhill section before climbing again. In this area, a girl passed me and immediately fell over, causing all of us to have to dismount and hike-a-bike. This was in the middle of a hill, so getting started again was tough. We weren't even 2 miles in and I already wanted it to be over. I had to get through 3 laps of this, and I wasn't even done with the first one. Not good. We climbed and climbed and climbed and finally hit another downhill section by some power lines. It was short lived because we went back to climbing. After the race I looked at the elevation profile from my Garmin, and the entire course was either up or down, no flats to recover on at all.
I finished my first lap and pulled over at the feed station to get some food out of my pack. I looked down at my watch and it said 51 minutes for the first lap. Great. I was going to be out there for 3 hours. I didn't pack enough food for a 3 hour ride! I had a pack of Shot Blocks, and a Cliff Z-bar. I decided to save the Z-bar for the last lap as the chocolate would give me something to look forward to. I ate half my blocks and decided to eat the other half again at the halfway point of the 2nd lap to help ration them.
The second lap I started climbing, again. The other waves were coming through at this point, so I just tried to keep rolling. It's a bad sign when you're only on the 2nd lap and want off the bike.
I finished the 2nd lap and figured I could gut out one last 3rd lap. I pulled out my Z-bar and ate half of it and checked my watch that said 52 minutes. Pretty close to the first one. The 3rd lap I cranked along slowly. After the top I started on the phoneline downhill section and came up on Zac standing on the side of the trail. "Are you ok?!?" I asked. "Go left" he said. "Are you OK????" I wanted to know. Turns out he had come up on a guy that crashed bad and had broken bones, so he dismounted to stay with the guy and wait for help. I continued on, figuring I'd see him at the end.
In one section, I was going down a scree hill and the front end tucked. Before I knew what happened I was sliding sideways down the hill. I got up and assessed the damage, and the worst was that my right knee was gashed and bleeding and I had a hole in my tights. As if the uphills hadn't been tough enough, it was even harder to get up them with a sore leg.
About a mile from the end I caught up to Krista and chatted with her. We were getting close to the 3 hour mark, so we kept plugging along. I crossed the finish just before 3 hours was up and immediately went to the food tent to get more food. I waited for Krista and Liane to finish, and we headed back to camp to change. This gave me a chance to remove the tights and see how bad the knee was.
Since we were waiting for Zac, we had plenty of time to wait for awards. Somehow Liane and I ended up in the top 5 of our age groups. Note the several layers we were still wearing at that point in time. The high that day was only in the 50s!

After the awards, Zac rolled up after having been on the course several hours with the injured guy. There's an MBAA policy that riders need to stop and help fallen riders, and since Zac did, they would be compensating for his next race fee.
After the day was done, the only tire Zac had to change was the one on the RV. The front passenger side tire was starting to delaminate, so we decided it was safer to change it than drive back to Tucson and risk a blowout.

The XTERRA season starts soon, so this would be our last MBAA race until the state championships in early June.

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