I thought I was done torturing myself after the Death Ride. Well, what’s one more ride? After all, this was my first Diablo Challenge. And, after logging all those miles training for the Death Ride, I knew this would be my best chance of posting a decent time for the Challenge. All the training leading up to the race had gone according to plan. Hill intervals with the Wheely Coolers, weekend hilll climbs, and the trial run up Mt. Diablo all helped me prepare physically and mentally. Not only was this training important in developing a solid physical baseline, it also helped me come to the unfortunate realization that finishing the Challenge in under 1 hour was a pipe dream. Not only is that 1 hour mark an impossibility this year, it will never happen for me.
Believe it or not, that realization was actually a big stress relief. I accepted that fact, and now, by doing this race, I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. I now thought that my self-timed trial run at 1hr10min was pretty good, and could only get better come race day. Approaching the big event in good spirits was huge! All I had to do now was taper off, and talk about race strategy with the guys. That’s what a smart rider would do anyway.
The week prior to the race, I had taken time off from work, and dove into long overdue house projects for four straight days. Come Friday, I was dying to get out and ride. I figured I could get away with an “easy” mountain bike ride on Friday, and a light road spin on Saturday to keep the legs loose. This is why racers have coaches who can lay the smack down.
Even though I still felt good, once the race started, I could tell it was going to be a struggle. After only one third of the way up the mountain, my legs were complaining. By the halfway point, I couldn’t even keep my heart rate in my target high intensity/race zone. The best I could hope for now was that my legs don’t give out completely and start cramping. If I did anything right, I knew I was well hydrated. I drank tons of water starting the day before, I drank a full bottle pre-race, and I had electrolytes in my race bottle. I didn’t have my “A” game. Now I started to think, what if I finished slower than my practice run? STOP! No negative thoughts! That was it. Can’t cry about it now, so I just had to focus on turning those cranks. (Ugh, didn’t I have enough of this with the DR?) I focused on picking good lines. When faster riders passed me, I studied their form. It reminded me to keep smooth, efficient pedal strokes, and to minimize energy sapping body movements.
Before I knew it, streaks of liquid squirted from bottles marked the pavement beneath me. That was the sign for the home stretch! The sign to dig deep and finish strong. Every grueling pedal stroke seemed to take forever, but I pedal until I hear the beep of the timer logging my official time. No regrets.
Overall, I was very happy with my results. I still finished with a respectable time. And it was a blast sharing this day with Don, Gary, and Willis.
Finish time: 1:10:16
Avg. HR: 190 bpm (91% of max)
Time in zone: 11 minutes