Beverly Park in Cedar Rapids was host for the new IMBCS event this year called the Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy. Considering it was a 1st time event, I have to tip my hat to the entire crew that organized and ran this race. Well done!!!
Ma Nature had plans for all of us that signaled summer is here to stay. 77% humidity, temperatures in the high 80s and into the 90's (high of 97) which gave us a heat index reading of 98 degrees at the start of the race today and climbing as the race went into the latter laps. Oy! Talk about a heck of a way to ring in the month of July!!! And need I say this is the hottest week in Iowa in 23 years...
The drive over was fine and I arrived in time to warm-up, chit chat and quickly realized the heat was indeed going to be a factor for me. I'm not really adapted to it yet (takes about 10-14 days of riding in it to do that). And even when adapted, this kind of heat is performance altering for racing. I also didn't have any protein to put in my drink bottle along with my carbs which was my bad. Protein tends to help me a bit in the heat, but I forgot it at home.
CAT 2 35+ and 45+ group lined up for our wave start and looked to be about 15-18 riders for the masters. At the start, nobody really seemed too anxious to jump off the line, so I moved up into 4th position going into the singletrack. The lead rider took right off and opened up a gap. The 2nd rider eventually fell and the guy that was ahead of me in 3rd and I took off to see if we could close the gap on the guy in 1st. Everyone followed us and stayed on my wheel, so I could see it was going to be a battle.
My legs felt pretty good during lap one considering I did 2 races last weekend and trained hard this week as I entered a build phase to prepare for some events coming up down the road that I want to do well in as target races. I wasn't sure who would show up at this race, or what I was going to be able to give in it, but suffice it to say I just wanted to finish it in the heat. In the middle of lap 1, we hit an open field section where we were out of the shade and all I can say is the sun and heat zapped me, but I kept pushing. After twisting through some really fun singletrack, we had a nice twisty descent through some bermed singletrack before a gravel doubletrack climb back up the hill (the longest climb on the course). As soon as we hit that climb, the 2 guys behind me hammered past me and took off into the sunset. I just tried to survive the climb.
The rest of lap one felt pretty good to me, but as I started lap 2 I started to feel my legs and body start to reject the effort at this heat and humidity level. I had done all of lap one using only my big ring up front, but now I found myself struggling in lap two with the big ring. Not because the climbs were steep or too tough, but because the heat was reducing my effort to sub-par. This eventually led to me gearing down to the smaller ring on my 2 x 9 to spin up climbs. I got passed by another pair on the sunny, open field climb as I wasn't willing to stomp the pedals up that climb. Lap 2 had me riding quite a bit - rather than pushing and racing. That brought back memories of other high heat index races over the years when my body shut down. The heat was worrying me. I didn't any feel cramps in my legs, but they were balking at the kind of effort needed to keep them going at a solid race pace. I basically shut down and just tried to survive the lap. I kept spinning my way up climbs instead of using power to keep my flow. I was staying seated more often and not getting out of the saddle to push over short power climbs. There were riders pulled off to the side every now and then that were resting, drinking fluids, bent over their bikes, nursing cramps and it made me realize the heat was having an effect on many of us. I passed a few riders from early start waves throughout lap 1 and 2.
Lap 3 began as a total survival lap for me to just finish. Yet, 1/2 way into it I started to feel a bit better and could maintain the big ring again. I actually had some moments and sections that I was racing again and it felt fine. But I was melted at this point and just wanted it over.
I crossed the line and was happy to be done. I went for a 15 minute cool down ride and then started drinking cold fluids as I packed up. I was a little dumbfounded to see the results as I must have lost count of who and how many passed me. Was I really that slow today? The heat must have melted my reasoning along with everything else. I had melted all the way down into 8th place. Say it isn't so? I thought I had salvaged a better slot than that, but what the heck - it just wasn't my day. I went into the race not as fresh as one wants to be to place well, and the heat zapped me after lap one. I should be content with finishing and not falling or getting injured - or having an adverse reaction to the heat. It was still fun - and that's the point. Riding a new trail with some unique challenges is always fun.
Kudos to John Peters and the Linn Area Mountain Bike Association for an excellent race. The trail is really fun and challenging. Time to cool off and get packed for our trip to California. Next up - racing wise - is a mountain bike race in California at Ft. Ord on Saturday. Thank goodness, temperatures will be in the low to mid 70's for that event. Now that's more like it....!