Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pan Ams

So I had a great trip to Colombia for the weekend. Everything was great except for my race.

I flew down on thursday - had a nice early start at 3:20 AM, and got into Bogota Colombia at 10PM. There we were met by one of the organizers with a big cube van and a bus. We headed off to our hotel by Chia with an armed escort at our side. Got into the hotel at midnight and had a great sleep.

Friday we build our bikes in the sun. It was amazing! We could stand around in shorts and a T shirt and soak up the warmth and energy from the sun. So nice after a rainy winter in Victoria. Friday was a bit of a long day - we rode over to the race course but weren't allowed to pre-ride until 4pm. When we did get on the race course it was really fun. Basically it had a long climb/long descent, with a few variations in between. Some of the climbing was super steep, and pre-riding it was difficult not to go too hard. The trails more technical than most south american race courses and were lots of fun to ride. After the pre-ride we rode home with a police escort (we followed him but he didn't know where our hotel was so we ended up riding around quite a bit extra).

Saturday a few of us rode over, did a lap, and then rode back. This time we had the route dialed and it only took 30min.

Sunday was race day and it dawned bright and sunny. This was supposed to be the rainy season in Colombia, with temperatures from 10 - 20 deg C, so it was mostly a nice surprise to have 28deg and sun. I say mostly because I did not do any heat adaptation before flying down, and preforming at my best when going from 5deg to 20 and rain is no problem, but 30deg is hard to adapt to. But, on the plus side it sure makes clean up and travel home a lot easier to not have muddy clothes!

For the race we had a pretty good field of competitors - with all the top South Americans on their best form, and a full squad from the US. I had a great start and was in about 10th going through the start loop, then we went up a short hill and past the feed tech zone, then up another short steep hill. I thought that I would be able to handle this effort, but in these first 5mins of racing I completely did myself in. I guess I forgot to mention that we were racing at 2550meters of elevation, and this means one can not recover nearly as well from anaerobic efforts. For the rest of the lap, and then the next 3 I crawled around the race course. I think I would have been better off to stop on the side and take a breather for 10min and then get back in the race. Put it this way - my race laps were slower than some of my pre-ride laps, when I just relaxed up the climbs. I guess I only just stuck it out because I don't quit races and wanted to finish. By lap 5 and 6 I had a little bit of speed back and was able to pass a few people.

In general I was pretty disappointed with my race, I don't feel that I came anywhere close to what I was capable of, and am annoyed that I had to relearn all about pacing at altitude. It was amazing just how slow I went. I guess the lessons learned are that I was too eager just to "pin it to win it"I need to remember to race with "brain over brawn".

Post race some of us rode back to the hotel, and that monsoon that was supposed to happen all week hit. It was incredible how hard it rained for about 10 min, enough so that we couldn't see more than 100m and was bouncing up off the pavement thick enough to look like a fountain.

This Castle at the race course was owned by the drug lords of the area back in the day. Now it is a public museaum. Even though we had a police escort at times we all felt very safe traveling in Bogota.