Sunday, October 30, 2011

Victory Velo Halloween Duathlon (Troy)

October 30, 2011 – Auburn, CA
Run 5.5-Bike m

1:35:30 (41:51 - 1:30 - 52:09)

2nd Male
Glenn Carnahan, Jamie Frink, Robin, Todd Allington & more

We've both been looking forward to this "unofficial" event.  It's my 3rd year.  I love how simple and challenging it is.  No registration, no numbers, no busy streets.  Dan Tebbs just says "go" and we head for the trails.

The course goes from Downtown Auburn into the canyon, following the Western States trail down to the confluence where the transition to mountain bikes takes place.  Then it's around the hilly and technical Clementine loop and back up Stage Coach to the finish.

Robin and I leave the house an hour early, with lights on our bikes, we ride 6mi to the run-to-bike transition.  The sun is about to come up and the temperature is not too cold.  We lock the bikes and start the run ascent 3mi up to the start at the shop.  Robin and I really enjoy being able to run together up the hill with the sun rising and hardly a soul to be seen.  Robin's a strong climber so we're always at the same pace on an incline.  Finally, we make it to the shop where a couple dozen die-hards are ready, in costume, despite no publicizing of the event.  It's just a local tradition.

There's funny costumes, and clever ones.  I'm "web man", covered in webs and spiders.  Robin is a bumble bee.  I'm trying to defend my title from last year against young Zack and Spiderman, Steve.  But Zack isn't here.  Neither is Kayden, a new threat since he's added running to his mountain biking prowess.  But Todd Allington is here and I'm well-accustomed to his dominating speed at the track and road biking.  However, he's wearing a big banana costume which has got to be inhibiting.. it could be my only chance..

Dan Tebbs welcomes everyone, takes a picture and gives a simple "go".  We turn immediately up steep  Cherry Ave.  I start off faster this year trying to keep up with Todd.   I'm working hard and surprised that so many are also taking the hill so well.  Most of the group are cyclists that hardly ever run but they're all running great this morning.

I'm expecting to see Robin the bumble bee not too far back but I'm surprised to see instead another bumble bee right on our heels.  It's Dawn, and she's keeping up with Banana man, Spiderman, Waldo and myself, Web-man.  We jump onto the railroad tracks and I pull ahead of Todd, trying to run light-footed across the treacherous rocks.  Fortunately my strained foot injury from a couple months ago has gotten much better.  Just in time for this difficult run course.

Mile 1: 7:32. I'm leading but that's because Todd doesn't remember the route.  I take us along the NID ditch and then drop down into the Western States Trail.  I'm really focusing on my foot placement, trying to be careful as I bomb down the trail.  I've got to push the descent because Todd can easily pass me on the climbs.  Waldo, Spiderman and Bumblebee are right with us.

Mile 2: 6:56. Mile 3: 7:19. I'm really breathing hard as we round Robie Pt and finally drop down the treacherous section to the river.  It my oxygen deprivation I make a momentary wrong turn but quickly get back on track.  Todd slows a little, still seeming to prefer me leading.  He's waiting his moment for the flat part at the bottom.  I hit the flat wider section and try to pick it up knowing Todd will do the same.  But after another mile I'm actually getting a little gap on the chasers.

Mile 4: 7:15. The magnificent Foresthill Bridge is looming in the distance, marking where our bikes are waiting.  I'm darting through narrow sections and then back onto the wide trail.  I bet it looks cool to see a guy bursting out of the brush with webs and spiders all over him.

Mile 5: 7:08. At "No-Hands Bridge" we climb up to run along Hwy 49.  I'm the first to emerge and again wonder what the drivers in the cars must think seeing a guy running down a trail with spiders on him.. but then realizing it's the 8ft banana costume behind that's really attracting attention.

Mile 5.7: 8:10. On the final stretch I was feeling it.  I find my keys and get ready to unlock my bike.  Breathing hard and transitioning, I notice Spiderman has already headed out on the bike.  A minute later I'm on my way.  T1: 1:30.  Gotta catch him.  But can't crash in the process.  On the left is a 100ft drop to the river.  The trail is lined with sharp rocks.  Robin and I did it a few weeks ago and that helped.

I'm doing well and start the ascend about 30secs behind Spiderman.  I want to slow down but the climbing is my only advantage and I must give it my all.  I finally catch him 2/3 of the way up but have to keep pushing.  It's a long technical descent and he'll surely be gaining on me.

Climb: 22:00.  At the top, totally winded, I start the descent a little out of control.  Come on, stay focused, crashing is not in the plan.  There's lot of fun jumps but I avoid them this time.. going too fast.  Through the rock-gardens.  Through the giant culvert pipe under Foresthill Rd.

Suddenly I hear the bouncing shocks of a bike behind me and, just in time, I pull over to see Spiderman, Steve, shoot by and carve through a giant berm I've always been too scared to take.  Quickly realizing I've got to stay close to him to have a chance of winning, I step it up and take the berm. Cool!

Culvert Trail: 7:34.  Now, on Mammoth Bar trail, I'm going faster than ever before.  Desperately looking for a glimpse of Spiderman.  Parts of the trail reveal fun new thrills at this speed.  The periodic rises can be used to sail smoothly over the rock parts instead of bouncing around through them.  It's just a really cool trail with lots of potential of going faster the better one gets.

It's going well.  Surely will be a PR for me.  But Spiderman is no where in sight.  Exhausted from the strain of holding onto my bike, I cruise by the confluence where some of the supporters tell me I'm only 30secs back.  With 1 tough climb left, I think I can catch him.

Mammoth Bar Trail: 7:06 (16mph)   But starting Stagecoach, my excitement is diminished slightly by the fatigue that has set in.  Looking up I can see Spiderman and am surprised how fast he's going.  Passing by Glen Carnahan running with his dog, he encourages me but I comment about how fast Spiderman is going and he agrees that he just flew by.

I never give up, though, and 1/2 way up I'm trying my best and still looking for the masked web-slinger.  There are more walkers/hikers out and it's nice to see their smiles when they realize there's a costume parade racing by.  But Spiderman is for real and today he's true to the hero of his character as he wins the climb to the top.  Who has heard of Webman anyway?

Stagecoach Climb: 15:00.  Anyway, I was really happy with my race and finished 30 secs behind in 2nd.  My transition could have been better.  And the last climb.  Just have to train for those things next year.   I love this event.  But now I want to find Robin to know she made it down without crashing in any of the rock-gardens.  Finally I see her and am so happy she made it, with only 1 practice run this year.

Ironically, I was a "man with spiders" and finished 2nd to Spiderman, while Robin was a bumblebee and finished 2nd to another Bumblebee.  Afterwards, we got the kids and all enjoyed a BBQ lunch behind the Victory Velo Bike Shop.