The day before the race I didn’t go to school and slept in. I drove down to the course around 2:00, arriving around 5:00. I did one lap of the course and concluded that the course was boring, that my legs felt like garbage, and that the race the next day would end in a sprint. I then went to the hotel, cleaned myself up, and went to dinner at Gusto, an Italian restaurant near my hotel, with my mom where I had spaghetti and meatballs with copious amounts of bread. After dinner I went back to the hotel and cleaned my bike up. After being on the phone for about an hour I got to sleep at around 10:00, leaving enough time for 9 hours of sleep.
The morning of my race I rolled out of bed around 7:30 when my alarm started blasting at me. I checked the weather and was excited to see that there was still no rain on the forecast for the day. Shortly after waking up I loaded up the car and left the hotel. My mom and I stopped at Starbucks for my first breakfast of the day which was a cheddar, sausage, and egg sandwich. We then drove to the course and unloaded some stuff into the pit with just enough time to spare to go watch the girls start. There was a lot of carnage during their starts which was sad to see but luckily it seemed like everyone was able to continue on with their races. After their starts I ate my second breakfast which consisted of a bowl of oatmeal with some peanut butter in it along with two hard boiled eggs. I didn’t get to do much heckling but I kept an eye on the races from the Oakland Composite pit zone.
Around 11:00 I got into kit and prepared my bottles - one scoop of GU Grape Roctane Powder in each bottle except the one for my warmup and lap one. In my warmup bottle I put a GU Orange Electrolyte Fizzy Tablet. I drank this entire bottle during my one hour warmup. In addition to this I took two GU Electrolyte Capsules 25 minutes before my start. Early on in my warmup I felt a few raindrops and decided to move under the team tent but I still didn’t think much of it. About five minutes later I knew that this was the right decision because the sky opened up and started dumping rain on us. There was a mad dash of people flooding into the team tent to get out of the rain which halted my warmup for a few minutes. Luckily I was still able to get all of my efforts in. Now it was time to take my bike off the trainer and get to the start. I saw it was five minutes to start so I figured I had time to go to the bathroom. Turns out I was cutting it close because by the time I got to staging it was about one minute to start. I pounded a GU Roctane Gel and handed my jacket to Johny. I stood there freezing cold for about 30 seconds in the pouring rain until…
FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE! We were off. I was on my way to another whole shot but yelled at Max to take it. He pulled for the first half of the lap and put down a solid pace. We were all yelling out about how we were cold and how our bikes were already not working due to the wet sand and mud that was accumulating on them. On the fire road climb of the first lap I locked my bike out and put some power down to get around Max. I succeeded but when I went to unlock my bike for the descent that followed it wouldn’t work. This meant that my fork would be fully rigid for the remainder of the race. I then sat on the front of the race for the rest of the first lap. When we came through the feed zone at the beginning of my second lap I took a bottle and Max pulled through to the front. It was during this lap that it stopped raining and the sun came out. This meant that the course was rapidly changing as it dried out. Throughout the race it went from sloppy mud to hero dirt so every lap it was basically a new course. On the same fire road climb as the first lap I passed Max so I could pull for the remainder of the lap. I did this and put in an attack on the last steep climb before the end of the lap trying to put everyone further into the pain cave. On the third lap I didn’t take a bottle at the feed zone and the pace slowed a bit. We were all gearing up for the explosion we knew would come on the last lap. Going through the feed zone for our final lap the group had whittled down to only four riders. I went to the front and started digging deep to put the power down. I knew I was wasting energy sitting on the front but didn’t want to give anyone the chance to break away. When we got to a wider section of trail Max pulled by me to take the front. This made me a bit nervous but I was happy to get out of the wind. Shortly after this he went into the bushes going around a tight corner so I was back on the front going into some more single track followed by a fire road descent. On that descent max pulled ahead of me again just before the single track and lead the group of four until we got to another fire road. I accelerated around him and charged into the next section of trail as fast as I could. I stayed on the front into the final climb of the race and emptied the tank on it. When I looked back to see what damage I had caused to the group I was shocked to see that max was only a couple bike lengths back from me. He caught me on the tight switchbacks that followed. I sprinted through the last opening on the course and into the single track, knowing there were only a few more corners to go. When I entered the short finish straight on the front I knew I had the win. I crossed the line for the win and fist pumped the air.
There were so many things that went well in this race but still many things I can work on. Can’t wait for the next one!
What went well: First race ever without any cramping!!
What to work on for next time: Bike maintenance
Noah Hayes, Varsity Boys, Skyline High School, 1 / 25