Cohuttas in the rain

This past weekend was the NUE 100-mile MTB race series opener in the Cohutta Mountains in Tennessee and North Georgia. My season is centered around doing 6 of these races between now and mid-Sept.

The race went well. I was feeling about how I expected to feel fitness-wise. The Single Speed field seems to be more stacked this year, with 2006 NUE series open champion Harlan Price committing to the 2010 series (on a Superfly single speed I might add) and Gerry Pflug returning to defend his NUE SS title from last year, it seems like the rest of us are left fighting for the few remaining podium spots. Realistically, I thought 3rd or 4th place would be possible with a great race.

The Cohutta starts with a 2 mile road climb. I let my HR go up to about 185 on the last little pitch up on the road before deciding to let the main group of 20 or so go. It was a bad place to do that since there’s a little pavement descent that I had to do without the benefit of a draft… by myself in no-mans land. I probably could have stuck to the back of the train with an absolute maximal effort, but at the time that seemed like a bad idea… so I was fairly far back entering the single track. After about an hour, eventual 4th place finisher Justin Pokrivka passed me on a steep technical climb before I regained contact and rode with him at a comfortable pace to Aid Station 2 at mile 36.  I was quicker through Aid2 and left alone. I was joined quickly by my old Xterra friend and geared rider Dan Larocque for most of the 10+ mile climb to Aid3.

This is when things started to get interesting. It started raining at mile 50 and started storming hard by mile 65 or so. It was really hard to see anything, let alone pick good lines. Despite having arm-warmers and a thermal base layer, I didn’t have enough clothes to combat the cold rain during the second half and my heart rate really started getting low… which is always a bad sign. On top of this, I noticed my rear brake lever gradually kept getting closer to the bar and by the last single track I had no rear braking. It was not particular to the XX brakes. I found out later that lots of people burned through brake pads, especially in the rear. The race was tough on the equipment.

Mile 75 or so to the finish I was just surviving. Between the cold and lack of stopping power, I was moving slower. I gave up a few spots but managed to squeak onto the podium in 8th with a time of just over 8 hours. Justin ended up grabbing my goal spot finishing 4th. Here’s the Garmin data in case you’re already planning for next year.

Apart from the brake issue the Superfly performed awesomely. It is by far the nicest bike out there.

The Crew was well represented. We have 3rd place men’s open finisher Mike Simonson being the only rider left riding with eventual winner Jeff Schalk for 50 miles till mechanical issues forced a delay during the descent off of Aid3. David Wood from Florida managed to capture 5th place ahead of Josh Tostado also in the men’s open. Great job Dave!  Sam Koerber was with the front group till rumor has it a mechanical ended his day.  Fellow Single Speeder Dwayne Goscinski had a nice ride to finish 5th. Great finish Dwayne and nice to ride with you briefly. You’re a strong rider.  Denelle Grant got onto the woman’s podium in 8th. Finally, Robert Herriman crushed the Masters field finishing 45 minutes ahead of 2nd place. Well done to all of you and to anyone I may have omitted.

The race was so hard, we decided to break training diet on the way home and treat ourselves to a little decadence… Don’t tell my wife!

Thanks for reading.

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