Originally Posted in 2010
This past weekend was the Cackalacky Cup held at Lake Norman State Park. Charlotte Sports Cycling hosts on a Mountain Bike Time trail on the Itusi and Mombo trails. The first TT is on the Itusi loop with some man made obstacles (a skinny, limbo and cones). If you were to fall off the skinny, not clear the limbo or knock over a cone, you were assessed a time penalty.
I’ve done this event 2 out of the last 3 years and always finished strong, top 2 or 3 overall. I was hoping this year would be the same. I rode the mountain bike trails on Thursday evening and felt good. Lake Norman is my ‘home’ trail so I know it very well. On Thursday, I struggled a little on the hills but figured that was because of the heat and the fact that I was riding in the evening – normally I ride before work.
I arrived at Lake Norman a little early to help Neal finish setting up for the event. We finished around 8 and I was scheduled to be the first rider off at 8:30. I think I managed to get a 10 minute warm up. The Itusi loop started with the skinny ( A 10’ 2×6) that I cleaned. And it was off to the races. I felt strong and was thinking this it going to be a good day. About a minute later when the trailed started uphill, my legs told me otherwise and it was full TT/survival mode. Next up was a set of cones following by the limbo. For some reason, the small bump getting to the limbo felt like a mountain. After the limbo the trail is super fast and leads to the final climb. I knew I was hurting because my lines weren’t smooth at all. I hit the last climb in full red zone mode – praying that I could get up the climb. I kept telling myself to just keep the pedals turning over. Once on the gravel, I went as hard as I could – which wasn’t very hard – and finished the final cone section with a time of 12 minutes. About 10 seconds later, Shawn finished (he started a minute after I did)….uh oh, maybe I needed a longer warm up.
I started the Mombo loop at 10:30 and was once again the fist one off. I was hoping that I would have a strong lap based on the last two times I’d done the event. The 2nd lap usually felt better. I started off thinking I was going well. And the first half of the loop did go well, but then I had the sneaky feeling someone was catching me. How is it that you can ‘just know’ this is happening. Shawn blew by me as we started the first uphill. When racing, this is demoralizing – especially when you are not used to getting passed. I tried to gather myself and keep my speed up but just didn’t have the power to get over the hill. Usually when I ride Lake Norman, this isn’t a problem. But I just didn’t have the power. I wasn’t going anywhere at the top even though I was pedaling as hard as I could. Shawn was long gone and I was hoping not to get caught by anyone else. I kept going as hard as I could without crashing. I wasn’t smooth at all and missed a bunch of corners – things I usually don’t have problems with on this trail.
When it was all said and done, I was 5th out of 5 expert racers. The good news is that I was the only ‘expert’ to clean all of the obstacles on the Itusi loop. My time on the Mombo loop was 23:50 (or close to that) which is an awesome time, but considering I did it in 21:55 last year (riding the trail in reverse) I was kind of disappointed.
On Sunday, Mike L., Earl, Jasen, Ashely, Tracy and I did the Soldiers Reunion ride in Newton, NC. It was supposed to be a fairly steady ride. Of course that never happens. The course was somewhat rolling and started fast. After about 15 miles, Jim Meade, Bo and Adam got off the front so I was able to play the team roll and if the group caught them, it was up to someone else in the group to catch them, I just followed wheels. There were two guys with Brewery jerseys on that ripped themselves apart and managed to close the gap at about mile 45. We rode together for about 5 miles as the group was whittled down to about 7 riders.
I was leading up one of the hills, going well and then felt my left hamstring start to cramp. That was it for me. I backed off and was dropped going over the top of the hill. I managed to keep the group in site until mile 53 and then was on my own. I limped to the finish and was passed by about 4 riders with a mile to go. I finished the 56 miles in 2:24 with a 23.7mph average.
After cooling down for a few minutes, Jim, Earl, Mike and I headed back out on the course to cool down and I was going to meet Tracy who was doing her first 60 miler. The guys turned around after about 4 miles and I kept heading out. Jasen caught me in his car as I was starting one of the climbs so I got to act like I was a pro racer and held onto his car – which is a heck of lot harder than it looks on tv. It takes some serious energy!!
I was starting to get worried because Tracy hadn’t come by so I tried to call her and when I did, I looked to the right side of the road to find a landmark and missed a turn. I took me about 1.5 miles before I realized it and turned around. My gut said I missed Tracy, but I continued to backtrack on the course. I made it 10 or so miles and started trying to calculate where Tracy would be if she averaged 15mph. Based on my math, I knew I must missed her. So I turned around and started heading back. I made it to the outskirts of town and got a call from Tracy asking where I was. She had finished and already had some ice cream!! And was totally excited to finish her first 60 mile ride…I was bummed I didn’t get to finish it with her – but I did get almost 80 miles in.
I rode with Mike and Earl on Tuesday and felt miserable. I was just hanging on. I couldn’t get my heart rate up and just felt tired. We are riding tomorrow and I hope I feel better. I was hoping to ride the RiverFront event at the White Water Center on Saturday but decided against it. I’m going to be a course marshall for Neal. For some reason, I don’t have the motivation to race. I’m hoping that changes for one more race, The Tree Shaker in October. But for some reason, I’m already planning my off season training.