Monday, August 4, 2008

The Dark Horse 40, Welcome to Semi Pro.

For those of you that don’t know, the Dark Horse is a 40 mile (2 laps) race held in Stewart State forest where sadistic riders traverse the single track in order to drink beer and eat a ¼ chicken afterwards. I attempted the Dark Horse 40 last year. Last year I had a Mike Festa Signature sidewall rip rear tire sidewall rip. I cannot run 20 miles; therefore I chose to get an early start on the chicken and beer (DNF).
This year was going to be different. I had a 2 hour endurance pace ride to do Saturday so I headed over to the race course with the intention of doing a lap. As I pulled into the lot a thunderstorm rolled up to say hi. After sitting in the car sulking for 15 minutes I manned up, put on the plastic rain jacket and slid around Stewart State forest for 20 miles. One broken chain and 2 hours later, it was off to Pawling Cycle to repair the bike I had just destroyed.
I woke up a little late Sunday thanks to the awesome alarm on my Blackberry… rushed to get my ish together and get to the race. I made it all work and arrived about an hour before post time. Threw down some food, slapped a number on the bike and pedaled around to warm up. Here comes error number 1: Long races require lesser warmups than short races. The pace is slower, and you don’t get put into the sub maximal death from the gun you do in a short XC race. I rode for maybe 15 minutes doing 1, 2 minute super LT hill effort. Felt fine… Line up, gun goes off, welcome to Short track pace.

People are sprinting, why? I don’t know. I held on to the lead group for 20 minutes and finally while watching my heart rate blast through the 190’s I sat up and let the gap go. My logic was to not die at like 20 miles and at this rate I was looking at a funeral service at around 90 minutes. The next 35 miles is a bit of a blur. I rode some stuff clean, I clipped a few trees, I stood up to power some of Stewart’s short pronounced climbs and felt my quads detaching from my bones… it was good. The only funny part was the 9.8’s drive train issues around mile 25. Thing sounded worse than a blender filled with rocks, I think one of the pulleys was sticking. I finished in 3 hours and 15 minutes, placing me near the rear of the Pro/Semi Pro field but well ahead of the Expert 19 to 29 field I had just upgraded from. At this point in the season coming off peak from nationals I can only be happy to have made it through the thing. After all It is the farthest I have gone on the mountain bike ever. The chicken and beer rocked as always and the atmosphere and people at mtb races always rock. Road Racing needs more chicken and beer. No, not this kind.

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