Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yet another Five-O wrap-up

Another Dakota Five-O is in the books.  My 5th one to be exact and even though nothing has changed about the course in the 5 years I've done it, other than the minor re-route that added DakoTA Ridge, it still never gets boring.  I suppose it has everything to do with the fact that it is a top notch event with a festival like atmosphere encompassed in one day.  Everything from the packet pick-up to the start of the race to the well-stocked aid stations to post race eats to the family friendly atmosphere makes this race a must do every year.

I had high expectations (for me anyhow) for this year's race.  With all the other races I've done this year I had the best fitness I've ever had for this race, so I figured I could "end" the mountain bike race season with a PR (personal record).  All that was on shaky ground starting on Friday as something was going drastically wrong with me.  I felt achy and my stomach sounded like a percolator with not quite enough water in it.  Super.  Two days before the Five-O and I feel like shit.  Now, understand this isn't Shit Cyclists Say or any excuse for my performance, which we'll get to in a minute, but the honest to god truth.  If I woke up Sunday morning and felt like I did on Friday or Saturday morning, I woulda pulled the plug on the whole thing.  Hell, I didn't even ride home from work on Friday, although my Lovely picked me up to go get groceries for camping, but still, I didn't ride home.

Needless to say, I felt better on Sunday morning.  100%?  No, but at least 95%, which was more than ample.  This year's race had riders picking from three starting waves since there were somewhere between 600-700 competitors.  If you thought you were going to be under 5 hours, you went in the first wave, second wave was 5-7 hours and third wave was 7+.  Since I knew I'd be in the 5 hour range, I opted for the 2nd wave.  I figured being more toward the front of the 2nd wave would be WAY better than at the back of the first wave.

Without getting into the monotony of the race (not that the race is monotonous, but my description could be, "I rode over a rock here, I almost crashed there, blah, blah blah") I'll tell you I felt EXCELLENT for almost the entire race.  I went out on my own pace and kinda stayed there for the whole race.  If you're not in the Dash for the Cash and you really have no chance of being at the front of the pack, you set goals like I wanna be at this time, I wanna beat this guy or that guy, which tends to evolve as the race wears on (you know, a guy passes you and you push it a bit harder or you see a guy ahead of you and you push to see if you can catch/pass them).  So I set some goals, one of which was to beat my time from last year.  And I did beat my 30 seconds.  THIRTY LOUSY SECONDS!  Shit.  After all the riding I've done this year and I can only muster beating my time by 30 seconds?  Consistency is a good thing I suppose, but I would have liked to have been a bit faster.  Oh well, at least I felt WAY better after the race this year.  I was completely wiped out after last year and I was the opposite this year.  I guess I could have pushed it a bit harder during the race.

I had a good time duking it out with friends and new aquaintences during the race.  I said I wouldn't get into the minutia of the race but I will tell you about just one exchange with another racer (I don't know his identity).  Starting around the infamous Bacon Station, we started passing each other back and forth.  He'd pass me on the downhill sections, I'd pass him back on the climbs.  He passed me as we exited the DakoTA Ridge singletrack.  I caught him a short time later on the Johnson Fireroad climb, and of course as we went downhill towards the Tinton Trail he passed me again.  I didn't see him again until we were climbing the Passion Play hill where I decided I was going to pass him once and for all.  I reached down, locked my fork out and stood up and hammered (as best I could at 46 miles in) to catch him.  As we descended through the completely decimated parking lot, I was right on his rear wheel.  We went down the last pitch to the final 6 or so blocks to the finish line.  As we were entering the marked off areas for riders to follow into the finish, there were volunteers stopping traffic, and my "victim" slowed up just a tiny bit.  That was my opportunity.  I slammed my shifters up into the highest gear and gave it everything I had.  I went rocketing past him like he stopped.  I kept that pace up all the way down the street, around the corner onto the final straight away and through the finish line.  Even mid-pack there still is a lot of fun racing to be had!

So, Five-O number five is all but a memory now, and a great memory it is!  A fun race with excellent support, an awesome atmosphere and post race festivities, and a great time with family and friends.  I am looking forward to #6 for me and lucky #13 overall!

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