Saturday morning I had the rare experience of having Brown County all to myself, in nice weather, and on dry trails. Of course, that only lasted about an hour and I had to get up at 5 a.m. to do it.
The reason I was up so early was because Adam was racing in Indianapolis in the afternoon, but he was leaving just late enough for me to get sneak in my assigned MTB ride before he left. So I got up at 5:00 to be at the trail by 7:00. For the first time I can remember outside of really crappy weather, I was the first car in the parking lot.
My assignment was a 3.5 hour ride with "freestyle sweet spot". Since I didn't really know what that meant, so I decided to take it easy up the connector trail and when I hit the North Tower Loop, ride at 80% of race effort for as long as I could keep it up.
It turned out that I could keep it up for quite a while. I tried really hard not to look at my watch the first lap, but I took a little glance at the end and realized that I'd done a 58 minute lap. When I was gearing up for the Lumberjack, my laps were 65-70 minutes, albeit at a lower effort level. While I was going hard, I certainly didn't feel blown out in the way that I usually do after the first hour of an XC race. I kept on going and busted two more laps at 56 and 59 respectively. I almost went out for another lap of the North Tower Loop only, but I realized that was cutting it a little too close on time, since I couldn't afford to go longer than planned that morning. So I took the long way back to the parking lot through the Pine Loop and erred on the side of going a little short instead of a little long.
It was a good ride, because I think that, for the first time, I actually felt what endurance racing is supposed to feel like. I was going hard for over 3 hours and I still felt like I could have kept that pace for another hour. I only got 28 miles in, but I got a taste of something sweet, and now I can totally imagine being able to go that hard for 50 miles by the end of next season.
So, needless to say, I skipped the third iteration of DINO Versailles yesterday. The stage race was much more important to Adam that the Versailles race was to me, and while I might have been able to bum a ride to the race, I really just didn't feel like trying to. I saw the results this morning and it doesn't look like I missed much.