Saturday, May 30, 2009

Avoiding the Tweety chair

The thing about race tactics is that as good as they sound on paper, there's no way to know whether or not they'll actually work until you put them into practice. Moreover, the degree to which tactics are executed correctly really has no bearing on how competitors will react to them.

UTRider and I pre-rode the Sundance I-Cup course on Friday after work. There's a road climb followed by a short section of double track, after which the course is pretty much all singletrack until it reconnects with the road climb about six miles later.

I figured if I could take second wheel into the singletrack, I could hold the leader's wheel and then make my move on the road climb (I have to admit that it seems weird to talk about making up ground on the climbs, but strange as it seems that's the way it is). What I didn't account for was the possibility of the race leader--in this case Rob from team Skull Candy, who finished second at the Draper race Monday--absolutely cleaning my clock on the single track.

I could have passed Rob on the climb, but opted to save the energy. Bad idea. Once we rounded the first switchback, I hardly saw him again.

My teammate Ken caught me just before the final descent of the first lap, and I knew he had a better chance of catching Rob on the down than I did, so I wished him luck and hoped I could make up ground on the climb.

I did indeed make up ground on the climb, finishing at the same time as Ken. But no sign of Rob. Ken led onto the singletrack, and I resigned myself to trying to hold third place.

At the I-Cup awards, the fourth place racer in each category gets the "tweety chair," an actual child's folding chair with Tweety Bird on the backrest, and the first position off the actual podium. Tweety chair is a great result and something to be pleased with. Unless you've been in a better position right up to the point when you blow up on the final climb. With another rider chasing me from not afar off for most of the second lap, it was the thought of being on the podium rather than the tweety chair that kept me motivated to continue suffering all the way to the line.

I executed the race plan just as I wanted to and was stoked to take third. But I can't help wondering what could have been had I taken the hole shot. Oh well, it's a fun course in a beautiful location. Which is almost enough to make you forget you're at Sundance.


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