Monday, September 15, 2008

Pain Cave

Between the rain and moving into my new place over the last 3 weeks I have not been on my bike much at all. I’ve been on the treadmill at the gym around 30 minutes a day so my cardio is fine, though it just doesn’t substitute for time in the saddle. It is fitness, and it all counts in the end. It will snow soon and there is no room for any scheming and angling to find the perfect convergence of schedule, fitness, and weather. Cross season is underway and that is what my Trek is for, so off to the race on Saturday I went. If I suck wind, so be it. If I eat it, so be it. I know I will have a great time. I accomplished all 3.

This stage was at a rectangular shaped park in downtown Anchorage. The entire length of the park is a slow to gradual hill across the short side of the rectangle, and the course ran across the incline several times. Think about it for a moment – you are constantly riding sideways along a hill, endless leaning and offsetting your weight in wet grass to find a way to maintain a straight, balanced bike. Very challenging and slippery, though over the course of the race some safe ruts emerged that I threw my confidence into them. Even on the sideways descents you had to lock into an offset posture to compensate for the hill. Also, whereas in Wisconsin there were a variety of classes to fit into, here in AK there is men’s open, which is 50 minutes and a lap. I’m not sure if this is a function of a different set of regulations or because of the smaller field. I suspect the latter. No problem at all for me. You get to ride longer, everybody rides together, and you naturally settle into your classifications over time. I like being able to always find somebody to work with and never feel like I’m all alone in a segment. It also keeps it from being an all day event. I love the Madison cross scene, but we just don’t have the bodies up here for that large of an event. Apples and oranges – I love them both.

This also had the burliest run ups I’ve experienced. You ran up a sheer wall of dirt on one occasion. Each step dug into the topsoil making an indentation, only to immediately fill in moments later – a very hearty and resilient burm. The staircase run up was epic, and after examining the park layout it made perfect sense to use it. At a glance it seems silly, but cross is nothing if not creative and painful. “You know that 25-30 step staircase over there, carry your bike up that each lap.” It reminded me of the stairmaster, and that is always heart warming.

They erroneously placed me in the Masters category and I think I did more laps then they recorded, but I’m right where I expected to be – exhausted and smiling. More pictures are here, and some in my camera awaiting development. Winter is coming, but not without a fight.

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