Well, another weekend passed, 26 hours in the car. Just like Spartanburg, I had to work on Friday so I didn't get rolling until 3:00 pm. We drove for 10 hours, stayed just outside Atlanta for the night. Woke up Saturday morning and got to the park around 1:00 pm for practice.
Climbing at Vista View definitely made a difference, but little did I know what I was in for. The easiest gear I had was a 42/34. For Florida courses this is perfect, not so much for Tennessee. The start was a 100 yard uphill, paved walkway, then through a fence to single track and the start of a 1.7 mile climb. The climb consisted of rocks, roots, gravel, mud and jeep roads. This took approximately 13 minutes from the base to the top of the mountain. From that point there was fast and tight single track as well as some gravel roads. Next came the second climb, which was .7 miles of the same terrain. At this point is where it got fun, no more climbing, just an all out descent on single track as well as jeep roads. At the bottom of the mountain we then turned onto pavement for a 1 mile gradual climb back to the start/finish.
On the starting line, I had a plan of being the first on into the woods to set the pace and avoid any problems during the climb. At the end of the concrete pavement, it went as planned. I went into the woods in 1st, pulling along a group of 23 people. By the time we crested the first mountain there was only 6 left. Florida skills definitely made the single track fast and fun, but there was no way to duplicate the intensity and length of the climbs. The remainder of lap 1 had a few lead changes, but for the most part the group stayed together. A surprise to myself was when we hit the 1 mile road climb back to the start/finish, I looked down at my computer and we were doing 23 mph! This was not part of my plan, but I dug deep and was able to hang in. At the start of lap 2, the first climb started to fatigue my legs slightly. By the top of the mountain, the pack was down to 4, with multiple lead changes and attacks throughout the lap. None of which really stuck. At the start of lap 3 I knew things were going to be tough, that Florida gearing was taking its toll on me. At the end of the first climb I dropped to 3rd with 4th place hot on my tail. I made up time in the single track and was able to recover, just not enough. We hit the final .7 mile climb and about half way up, I got passed by 4th place as my legs were extremely fatigued. On the final descent, while spinning out my 42/11, I glanced down at my computer and saw 32.8 mph on a gravel road, winding down the mountain. At the end of this road it went back to single track, where I was able to get right on the wheel of 3rd place. Unfortunately, he got around a lapper with ease and I didn't have such luck. I took the bottom turn at the mountain, got onto the 1 mile paved road, went into my 42/11 again, grabbed the center of the handlebars and peddled my ass off. Every time I glanced up, the gap to 3rd place did not shrink.
So the outcome was a 4th place finish for me with lap times that I was pleased to turn. Go onto Gone Riding to see official times and splits. Overall, the weekend, I feel was a success. I know what I have to work on for the next few weeks, but first and foremost I'm changing my gearing to a ratio that will suit me much better in the SERCs.
Once again, got home little earlier than expected and was in bed by 2:30 am, only to wake up for work at 6:00 am.