Earlier in the season, I had chosen ORAMM as one of my "A" races this year. That all changed a couple weeks before the race when I was invited to spend a few days in the mountains with Todd. He mentioned that he wanted to get in four big days of riding in a row with the fourth being ORAMM. This sounded like a great idea to me so ORAMM moved from an "A" race to a training ride at the end of a four day training block.
I met Todd on Thursday morning for a guided ride on new trails that are being developed on Beech Mountain. I enjoyed getting introduced to some new trail and look forward to getting back out there as the trail network expands. The ride ended up being fairly casual but enjoyable.
Friday morning Todd and I headed out to the North Mills river area and put together a loop with a good mix of gravel and singletrack. While hike-a-biking, Todd managed to catch a pointed rock in the ankle which tore his shoe and caused him to roll his ankle. He was able to continue riding and we completed the loop that we had set out for. Once we arrived back at the cabin, it was very apparent that Todd's weekend of riding would be cut short. His ankle had swollen and he was unable to put any weight on it.
With Todd out of commission, we decided to hang out at the cabin on Saturday. Todd suggested that I take his geared bike out and work a couple of efforts on the road while on my way up the mountain. I did just that and really enjoyed myself on the gears and his bike. When I returned, I told Todd that I wanted to race his bike at ORAMM. Since I was going to use ORAMM as a training ride, I figured that this would be a good chance to experiment with gears. Todd obliged and after a few minor tweaks the bike was good to go.
ORAMM would be my first race on a geared bike. The one thing that I didn't want to do during this race is blow up early. Being that you can work constantly on a geared bike, I was afraid that my singlespeed legs would not respond well to constant power output. A couple days prior to the race, my coach had emailed me a breakdown of the course and a plan to follow with which HR zones to target during each section of the race. I enjoy racing using perceived exertion and don't like the idea of knowing how much time has gone by, distance, or what my heart rate is so I have never raced with my heart rate monitor before. To help regulate my efforts I decided that I would race with my HRM and would try to follow the plan that was provided to me.
Once the race began, I tried to find a good pace line to join but was unsuccessful. I ended up riding most of the initial climb to Kitsuma weaving in and out of traffic. I was able to get in a good groove and worked my HR according to plan. This year I was able to climb all of Kitsuma as I was there prior to the it getting bogged down. Since Kitsuma was the first singletrack that I had ridden on Todd's bike, I took it a bit easy while learning how the bike handled.
The remainder of the race went by without incident. The Curtis Creek climb passed quickly. I used a good mix of seated spinning and standing which helped spread the work around in my legs. Once I hit the hike-a-bike up to Heartbreak, my right calve started balling up which made walking painful but once I was back on the bike I was able to recover. By the time I got back to Kitsuma I finally used the small ring and slowly grannied my way to the top. My second trip down Kitsuma was a bit faster as I had learned how to handle Todd's bike over the past five and a half hours. I came in with a time of 6:02 which was good enough for 7th in Vet Men and 32nd overall. I felt great the entire race and was able to execute my plan perfectly. The thing that really surprised me about this race is that I had a great time on gears. Who would have thought?