Thursday, February 03, 2011

Racing Tapeworms

I went to strange sort-of race on Sunday. It was the Tapeworm Time Trial. One of the few times I've managed to meet up with a group from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Club was the first time I rode Tapeworm. It's part of a network of trails shoehorned into a powerline right of way in Renton. It has a strange feel. Not quite post-apocalyptic, like South Seatac, but odd - it's really quite a large amount of land, and aside from a power station, there's nothing there, but it's right in the middle of some suburban housing.

The site is on a hill, and the trails themselves are very twisty. The people who originally built them were trying to stuff as many feet of trail as they could into the area. Between the pitch, the twistiness, and the usual Pacific Northwest vegetation, the trails are very technical. While part of what I like about mountain biking is the additional challenge of the terrain, last time I went to Tapeworm, it was a bit much for me.

When I'm in good racing shape, I often reel in the opposition on climbs, but lose places in technical sections. So when someone sent out an email about this race on my team's list, I thought it would be a good idea to enter. I've been talking about how I was going to start riding Tapeworm more for a while, but I don't like the atmosphere all that much - it doesn't exactly make the spirit soar to be there. Deciding to enter the time trial gave me a specific goal to train for by riding Tapeworm.

I managed to fit in two two-hour trips before the race. I did stop-and-repeats to varying degrees on both trips, and managed to ride up some things by the end that I couldn't when I first encountered them. Of course when it came time to race, I ended up doing my fair share of running anyway, but in general I felt pretty good on the trail I practiced a lot. The race course incorporated another one that I hadn't had time to work on as much, and in an uphill-trending direction, which is always harder on technical terrain. I got pretty bogged down in that section.

I think the takeaway is that I need to keep going out of my way to ride trails that are hard for me to ride cleanly, and repeat obstacles that stop me until I can pass them. None of this is really a surprise, but it feels good to have made some progress.

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