So today was The Andrew Mein Excellent Adventure at Granogue. The course was in great condition, the sun was shining and it was pretty much a perfect day for a race.
The only thing missing was me ...
Today I put on a clinic on what not to do when racing enduros.
Lesson number 1: If you're going to race SS, know enough about the course to make at least an educated guess on the right gear to run. I have been riding an 18 cog most of the season so far, but that was absolutely the wrong choice for Granogue. I should have run a 20, maybe a 21. There is no advantage to the bigger gear at Granogue -- the entire course is up and down. There is practically no section that isn't a climb or a descent. Since gears are mostly nullified on descents, that makes the climbs the determining factor, and a bigger gear is just a bad choice for the amount of climbing on the course. And the thing about it is, I should have known. This was the first time I raced SS at Granogue, but I've raced there at least four or five other times.
Lesson number 2: If the lap times don't match your nutrition-by-lap plan, change the plan. I use Endurolyte supplements from Hammer. My intake should be about 3 per hour, tops. I don't usually carry them with me. Instead I leave them in my cooler and re-load each lap. The problem was, early on, I was spinning sub-hour laps. But I continued to take my Endurolytes by lap. Bad idea. I didn't even adjust the number I took. Rookie mistake. Again, I should have known better. I started to feel really sick on my fourth lap -- even had to sit down for a few minutes at one point. It hurt to move forward.
Lesson number 3: In an enduro, smart beats fast everytime. Early on, I was doing alright precisely because I was riding my own race -- bad choice of gear notwithstanding. When things started to go bad I changed how I rode and started walking more hills. That would be fine, except walking some of the hills was harder than riding them, and that would have been smarter. I stopped thinking and panicked over the possibility of cramping up instead of doing the right thing to ensure it didn't happen. And I've been racing way too long to make that mistake. Just dumb.
So there it is ... a bad day, some (old) lessons (re-)learned. Life moves on. At least I spent the day on a bike!