Tough race at Sonomas XC!
Yes - it was as hard as they explained the 34,5 miles / 7000 feet course on their web page!
A endless amount of steep and loose climbs, not really any flat parts to recover, but the full program of single trails and fun descends made it still fun to ride... mostly!
I got a front spot at the start and was hanging just behind the leading pack of Pro's and Cat.1 racers, going up the street to the first single trail. All the sudden my heart rate went up and I felt getting dizzy, had to slow down and was at the point to stop the race. Kept pedaling easy and slowly got better, kind of OK when we hit the first single trail. Unnecessary to say that almost the whole field past me and I got stacked behind slower riders walking at the uphills and going slow on the downhills.
After the field streched out I was able to start my pursuit, but passing was difficult and it took some time and extra energy, so after about 40km I started cramping. Somehow I managed to keep pedaling and was able to stretch on the downhills, so I didn't loose, but also didn't gain any more spots. The shifting problems I had were because of a perfectly fitted branch in my derailleur as I realized afterwards, but that wasn't the worst today.
I was really exhausted for the last hour and kept fighting to keep my position, as 2 riders were passing me on the last downhill stretch before the finish line. I gave it my all to the finish line and sprinted them out in a photo finish! I got 13th out of 55 in Cat.2 age 36+. With less than 4 minutes to 8th place I know that much more was possible. Although I managed to stay under 4 hours. Overall I had the 66th fastest time out of 172 male Finisher from Pro/Cat.1+2. The rest of the field did the short course. The race was won by the Ex-Pro, Levi Leipheimer.
Casandra for her part took some wrong turns, had a crash and ended up coming in after 6 hours for the "24miles" course - we have no idea how far she went, but I was glad she didn't get lost out there! :D
BUT I have to admit it was really fun to ride those awesome trails in perfect weather conditions and scenic views on the lake! The post race meal was excellent, but I wasn't able to try the free beer... Next time we know what to expect!
Big thanks to the Organizers from bike monkey and photographs from Culture Pop Films!