05 February 2017

Back again at Eagle River Nature Centre

Just over four years ago we arrived in Anchorage, after getting fat bikes I immediately started to race mine. My third race was the second ever fat bike race at ERNC, my race report can be found here (link)
I would like to say that my racing has improved but I still go out to fast, explode then struggle to finish. FYI this is the unofficial Revolution Racing team motto "Go out hard, blow up and struggle to finish" Most of my team mates have the right idea, if we ever don't get the motto right we seem to do much better in the races. 

This year I was back for the ERNC race after a two year absence, the course was also back at ERNC after missing last year there due to open water on the river. This year the temperature was around 7F at the start and dropped to around 0F on the river. 

The course went the opposite way to the way we rode the course last time I was there in 2013. We started with a relatively smooth downhill on wider trails which were only slightly moose tracked. Then we had around 7 miles of river riding on packed snow machine trails with a couple of sections of glare ice. We exited the river up a technical climb then followed the ERNC trails before turning onto a less used trail by humans but seeming a highway for moose and climbed a very bumpy trail for around 0.6 miles before descending around 0.6 miles back onto the more used (packed and smooth) trails to complete the lap. 

How did my race go

Surprisingly well to be honest. I started near the front a trick I have learnt from cyclo cross, as we entered the river for lap one I was in around 8th place but there was already a gap to the lead group. I was riding with strong group and enjoying myself. Megan (one of my training buddies) who was following me then jumped infront to "share" the workload but then proceeded to drop me, why do you have to be so strong Megan :D.

Truth be told I was struggling to follow her closely through the soft and icy sections so dropped back a little so as I could pick my own safer line, I was slowed up a little on one of the two way sections as someone coming towards me veered onto my side of the trail but Megan had by this point caught up with Jamie and Clint. I was in sight of the three of them for the rest of the river miles on lap one then got completely dropped as we exited the river. On the plus side there was nobody around me, on the down side there was nobody around me and I kind of forgot I was in a race with some really fast people behind me. 

I wasn't really pushing that hard through the really bumpy section of the course until I saw Jamie ahead of me (he had taken a bad fall on the ice) he kindly pulled over and let me past as I continued to complete my first lap. Getting back onto the smoother trails I remembered I hadn't really been eating and drinking and still had another 11 miles to go. As we got onto the river I was messing around swapping gloves whilst riding and trying to eat when I hear a scream from behind me. That can only mean one thing Laura had caught back up with me, oh crap I thought I am racing. She was riding with a guy called David and a guy called Matt and they had clearly not forgotten they were racing. Dave and Matt passed me and I was still messing around eating and drinking but managed to keep them within striking distance as we exited the river for the second time. Laura was right on my heal too.

The exit was not as smooth this lap and all four of us ended up dabbing and then pushing up the hill. We re-mounted and the pace increased as we headed to the moose tracked section of the course. I was right on David and Matt's heals as we headed up the bumpy section which unfortunately hadn't improved with the passing of 100 racers. As we got the the steep left hand bend once again we were off the bikes and pushing. The pace was a little to slow for me to ride so I decided to save my energy and run whist the other two riders tried to ride. This paid off big time as I managed to pass both riders the next time they stalled. I ran to the top of the next hill then pedalled like a crazy man to the finish. The few riders I passed who were finishing their races were very courteous and let me past very quickly.

The race finishes with a 0.2 mile climb and via the magic of Strava I can confirm that although I went flat out up the last climb if I had still been with David and Matt I am sure I would have finished behind them. I was 20 seconds slower than Matt and my legs were cramping up. 

I finished the race in 1:56:56 in 8th place, Matt was 9th in 1:57:02, David 10th in 1:57:06 and Laura 11th in 1:58:27.

It was great to see so many friends out at the event and see the happy faces come the finish of the race. Thanks to ERNC for putting on a great event, the post ride BBQ and hang out was great fun.

I would also like to say a huge thank you to Bria who looked after Fiona whilst I raced as Amanda was working, without you taking care of Fiona I wouldn't have have been able to race.

Ice beard kisses

What would I do differently next time

This time I am very happy with my performance. My first race at this location I was almost 28min behind the overall winner, this year I was only 17min behind the overall winner. FYI winner both times was Will Ross.  The only thing I would change up for next time is to eat and drink a little more earlier on during the race. 
I didn't go out way to hard like normal so my pacing was pretty good for a change although my second lap was still around 7 min slower than my first lap so definitely room for improvement there. 
I really wish I had taken a few photos whilst riding as the scenery was spectacular.

Strava file of the race 

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