Sunday, May 19, 2013

Race Report: RME Indian Creek XC by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

Saturday morning I drove south for the latest in the RME series. The Indian Creek course is located about 10 miles west of Sedalia. I signed up to do the XC race, so one 19 mile loop. Looking at the course profile I knew I was in for some climbing. While I was riding I kept thinking about how the course reminded me of Walker Ranch. I'd read there were bottlenecks early. My game plan was 'burn a small match' and gain space on most of the competitors and hopefully never see them again.
Indian Creek Profile

We started off a camp and had a neutral roll-out behind an ATV. My age group, 40-49, had roughly 30 racers in it. I'd arrived with plenty of time and got in a few efforts to warm-up. The 'neutral' roll-out was not a cake walk, it was 1 mile up a canyon and we gained 300 vertical feet at an average of 10 mph. There were a couple guys right on the ATV but I was 12th as we exited road. Next we were into a fire road section which worked out well as I was well into traffic from the Juniors, 19-29 and 30-39 age groupers who'd started 2-3 minutes before me. Given how badly I'd cramped last week at Eagle, I was vigilant about not going too deep in the red early, especially for extended periods. I caught two riders from my age group before we entered single track. I was a bit disappointed that the  big descent didn't seem near as long as illustrated in the profile. The bottlenecks early I'd read about didn't exist.

Going into the next climb I was feeling fresh and I found that I had an advantage over many of the guys around me -- I have a triple and many had a single or double crank. I swallowed my ego and used my granny chainring for the first time this year. I was riding steep sections they were walking, my lowest gear is a 22/36.

I particularly liked a section that ran parallel to some power lines. On the first of a series of jumps I caught way more air than I expected, Vogel would have been proud. At one point I heard a ton of noise off to my right and it was some guy passing me like his hair was on fire. I eased up and let him pass mainly because I didn't want him to take me out. I was a bit pissed when I saw he was in my age group. I held his wheel for about a mile before he dropped me. According to my math, I was now 11th in my age group. I dropped my chain once but that was quickly remedied, my sole mechanical issue.

As the road started to tilt up again we were well into hike-a-bike territory. The climbs weren't technical outside of the occasional exposed root but they were steep. My hike-a-bike was a little faster than most and I gained several spots, unfortunately none were in my age group.

We crossed several creeks and my feet were soaked but it was refreshing. The flat-ish sections in the profile above didn't exist but fortunately neither did the wall right before the finish. The profile from Strava reflects the profile more accurately:  I've looked at several GPS files and the total vertical shows as 4000' instead of the 2800' I was expecting.

By the end I was riding alone, no one in front and no one behind me. As I expected, I ended up 11th in my age group and was 31st out of 103 finishers overall. Had I been with others I would have pushed harder and gained spots on the overall but I eased up as my age group position was locked in. I learned some hard pacing and hydration lessons last week in Eagle. I'm pleased with the result as this was definitely a course tailor made for climbers, and I'm horribly allergic to climbing.

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