Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Race report: Domnarski Farm 2014

Domnarski Farm is a great, great mountain bike race.  And it's only 35 minutes from Amherst, so it's often the only race I do all year. I like to race it well, in hopes of maintaining some bike racing acumen in case I ever decide to race more frequently.

Its single ten-mile loop constrains the distances available for the various racing categories. Cat 2 is usually longer than 10 miles, but 20 is too far for us folk, so we get a nice 1-lap race. (I'd like to race Cat 1 someday-- I think I could keep up midpack or just behind-- but I'd need to commit to more saddle time to prep for 2+hour races. Uggh.)  As I said last year, a 10-mile bike race is flat out the whole way.  Today the 20-29 and 30-39 Cat 2 groups started together.  I made a bid for a good position as the trail narrowed, and I redlined most of the first big climb, which covers about the first mile of the course.  It seemed as though I had put some distance on the rest of my age group; I chased a few guys for most of the race, and they were 20-29'ers, but I never noticed that 2 guys in my division had pulled ahead early on.  Anyway, it all felt pretty good, and the focus was there.  I rode most of the trails cleanly and kept the effort high throughout, making sure my heart rate and breathing were near-maxed on everything but the downhills. (Thursday's mountain workout, however, was still clearly present in my legs.) Downhills continue to be a weak spot, as I would catch guys on climbs and technical sections and fall off the back again on the descents.  No doubt I'm not great at downhills, but my hardtail bike and high tire pressure (I'm paranoid of flats!) bounce me around like I'm on a jackhammer.  Not helpful.  Might need full-suspension again someday, especially for longer Cat 1 races, but only when I can afford a proper FS bike (meaning under 26 pounds, which costs a small fortune).

The only reason I keep a computer on my bike now is for this annual race-- so I can see how many miles are left, and make sure I'm pressing 100% with a few miles to go.  So I pressed the last few miles after the final climb and sharp descent at mile 7.5 or so.  Nobody around, save for a guy who I'd catch on climbs but couldn't hope to stay with on descents.  He flatted (or something) just before the finishing descent, so that was a nice little coup for me.

Finish-- 3rd in my group (Cat 2 30-39), 7th fastest Cat 2 time of the day, 1:03:12.  Almost exactly the same time I rode last year, but it was a bit more competitive this time. (And last year was hot as hell.)  Maybe another bike race before the summer ends?

Resting now for the Ascutney Mountain race this coming weekend.  I'm looking for vindication after an awful run at Pack Monadnock, and some assurance that my training is pointing me towards the USA championships at Loon. Climbing has never felt so good, so I'm excited to see what an all-out 3.7 miles up a paved mountain road feels like right now.

Full results: http://www.root66raceseries.com/results.cfm

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