Thursday, May 8, 2014

RME Battle the Bear and Koppenberg by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

This spring/summer I've emphasized racing my mountain bike. Saturday was the 2nd race in the RME series, Battle the Bear at Bear Creek Lake Park. I signed up for the RME series so doing this was race was a given. I knew my tank would be empty Sunday after 2 hours at full gas on Saturday, but I like Koppenberg enough to do it anyway. Between the dirt roads on a road bike, a location close to home and that damned leg breaker of a hill it's a must do for me, what's not to love? So, needless to say I've had this weekend circled on my calendar for months.

Saturday: RME Battle the Bear

On Saturday Brad carpooled to Morrison and arrived on schedule at the park and got in a solid warmup. Weather was definitely an improvement over the past several days, significantly warmer and mild winds. Again I was too far back in staging to get a good start. I burned a couple matches during the 2.5 mile opening loop and had moved up to roughly 15th by the first time through the finish line. From there we moved into the cottonwood section -- a single narrow curvy line. I'm not sure if it was a result of the floods last year, but this section was incredibly dusty. It was hard to see more than one rider in front and breathing the dust wasn't fun. After the typical scorching fast start I settled in and the first two laps were uneventful. I tried to hold my own on the climbs and tried to move forward on the flatter and downhill sections. It felt like I was passing roughly as often as I was being passed.

RME BTB Action 2014

Not halfway through the third lap I started to feel the familiar twinges of cramping in my legs. I eased up and tried to dose my efforts. I also tried to get as many fluids down as a I could. I lost a position or two but I saw two riders ahead of me obviously fading and I was planning on reeling them in before the finish. With my CamelBak dry I tried to take a drink from my bottle on a moderate descent, a double track trail. As I was putting the bottle back into the cage I crashed. I'm not sure if I hit a rock or got out of the track, either way the result was I went flying over the bars landing on my right shoulder rolling onto my head. I was a bit shook up and it took a moment to get my bearings. After the race I looked at my GPS file, I was going 16.4 mph when I crashed and I was stopped for just over a minute. While I was off the bike my right calf went into full-on cramp mode. Once back on the bike I was tentative for several minutes. I made my way up the final climb and passed several racers on the final way in. I ended up 19th in my age group out of 58 starters. Two racers in my AG finished less than a minute ahead of me, so not staying on my bike cost me two spots minimum. A solid but not exceptional day all things considered.

Sunday: Koppenberg

Saturday evening I tried every recovery trick I could think of: ice bath, dried tart cherries, self massage, elevation, compression socks, etc. Upon waking I popped a couple Aleve and had my regular pre-race meal of Oatmeal. My neck and shoulder were darn sore from the crash the day before but it wouldn't affect me on a road bike. My legs felt okay except for my calf. I got in a warm-up spin with Greg and Andy and we made our way to the start line. We were all in the back row. (Note to self: make it to the start area earlier when start position matters!) Luckily, start position didn't matter this day -- Andy, showing his CX skills, dropped the hammer and moved to the front. I hopped on his wheel for the free ride. First time through the dirt and up the hill went fine. First time through the start/finish line I was happy to see that all three Foxtrot guys were in a group of 20 and had made the first selection.


After the second time up the Koppenberg I couldn't hold Greg's wheel on the dirt of S 66th St, missing the second selection. I settled into the first chase group with two other guys. We talked about taking turns and closing the gap. We were only 10 second back but we couldn't claw our way back. As we hit the dirt the third time my calf let me know in rather clear terms it had enough. I eased up to avoid further cramping. I spun to the top of the Koppenberg and called it a day there. I was there to cheer Greg and Andy on for their fourth and final time up the hill. So, it ended up being a DNF for me -- basically an expensive workout. Not surprising given the effort of Saturday, but disappointing still.

Coming up for me is a recovery week and no racing next weekend. My next race will be RME Indian Creek on 5/17.

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