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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Southern Cross 2014

My heart is pounding in my chest…  I know that my heart rate must be in the 160s…  165 is redline…  I can feel the lactic acid building in my legs.  I look down at my Garmin…  it is set to display time and distance only…  it reads 16.8 miles.  This is a ~50 mile race…  I pedal for 5 or 10 more seconds then quickly dismount…  and walk and push my bike…  and wonder if I will be able to make it to the finish…
But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself here…
We Headed North on Friday morning with a Subaru full of bike gear…
At one point I looked over next to us and saw this:
Just in case the picture isn't clear…  that's a bike with a propeller…  like you would see on an airboat, mounted on the back.  Hmmmm
We picked up my friend John @ the ATL and made our way to Gainesville where we stayed with the best aunt evah!
She put us up (and put up with us) for 3 nights…  bless her sweet heart
Saturday morning we got all kitted up and made our way over to Dahlonega for the race start.
We got lined up, once we figured out where the start line was..  and seeded ourselves about 2/3 of the way back.
The course starts with a Cyclocross course through the vineyard…  and with so many people trying to squeeze through it was slow going through there…
The next section was on blacktop road and I took the opportunity to move up a bit…  all too soon however we were on the gravel.  The first few miles were rolling and fun.  Just picking a good line on the doubletrack and keeping everything under control.  Not too different from a Tuesday night at Guana Park.
Then the climb started…  and that was okay…  now I'm a flatlander…  really flat… and came into the race about 8 lbs over race weight… but I was climbing okay at first…  which takes us back to the beginning of this post.  Walking and pushing…  which I did for about 8 minutes on the first climb.  Skinnier and I might have been able to ride it… a more relaxed gear ratio might have helped too…  but I had to race what I brought.  Walking brought my heartrate down and I was able to ride a bit more…  but up near the top it was really steep and I did walk again for a minute or two….  I still didn't know how I was going to cover the 32 miles that remained of the race but I really didn't have much time to think about it because….
The descent…  the one thing I really could not prepare for…  Climbing can be simulated but flying down a 12 percent grade of rutted, rocky, hairpin switchbacks cannot…  maybe watching Bode Miller at the Olympics helped…  I felt that "just on the edge of out of control" but at the same time I was feeling pretty good about myself for going as fast as I was going without crashing (meaning I was being brave)…  well that was until I started getting passed by all these folks with actual handling skills.
There was a road section in the middle of the race and as soon as I got there I sat up and just started breathing…  seemingly seconds later a rider comes past and taps me  on the shoulder and says "LETS GO!"  and so we did…  after picking up another rider… we killed the next 4 or 5 miles of rollers and passed many of the riders who passed me while I was either walking or making my way down the descent….
As soon as we hit the gravel again the road started going up again and I lost my friends almost immediately and did not even get a chance to say thanks.  The second climb was longer but more gradual which was *much* better for me.  I was able to stay in control of my heartrate and keep a steady pace.
The second descent was, if possible, faster, tighter, bumpier, more dangerous, and steeper.  I managed to white knuckle my way down it without mishap and with only a dozen or so real bike riders passing me…  this lead to the blacktop and my biggest mistake of the day.
This blog is titled "AllABoutPace" and when I'm running I am very cognizant of pace and what I can handle versus what I cannot…  put me on a bike however and that goes out the window…  especially in a race and even more so towards the end of a race.  I realized that I had just a few miles to go (to be at 50 miles) and about 30 minutes to break 4 hours… 
And I rode like a demon…  I recruited a couple of guys to ride with me and swap a few pulls…  and basically gave it everything I had…  and emptied the tank just as we turned into the winery and the dismount point came into view…
Yep… I forgot about the Cyclocross course that needed to be negotiated again… 
Whereas the course wasn't too hard when fresh and impeded by the pack…  now that I had been on the bike for 4 hours and killing it for the previous 25 minutes I just wanted to quit on the spot.  I didn't tho..  and trudge up this…
Yes those dots between the green and blue are people near the top…  it was long and it was steep.  Adding onto my woes I had left my bike in its largest gear which led me to slip my chain at the top… a few turns later I misjudged a corner, hit a stump, and went over my handlebars…  I finally finished in 4:14… tired, shaken, and totally cooked. 132nd out of ~250
Course profile:
In summation…
The climbs sucked, the descents sucked, there were no flat parts and the Cyclocross course dang near killed me.
But…  we had a great time and am looking forward to going back next year

1 comment:

Jim ... 50after40 said...

I don't really consider myself a puss, but I totally wimp out thinking about those down hills - it's the one thing that keeps me from biking ... that, and I don't own a bike. But I'm always worried my wife is gonna crash on a downhill like that. But good job on getting through it.