By Paul Ruchlin Politics is not the only arena here in the nation’s capital that suffers extreme swings. The weather is just as likely. Following 6-10 inches of snow dumped on us last Thursday (I’m not complaining Boston, just stating a fact), through a low of 10 degrees Friday night, we swung complete through to a beautifully sunny and fantastically pleasant high of 60+ degrees on Sunday; A picture perfect day for my opening race/event of 2015, Monster Cross, in Pocahontas State Park just south of Richmond. This is my fourth time for this race and it is one of my favorites. The course is completely non-technical, taking place on fire roads, paved roads and some park trails, it’s fast (usually), flowy and fun. Really, its defense is its hills and the fact it’s an early season test of fitness at 20, 26 or 46 miles. This year it threw in a few extra teeth as, with the snow and rain of the last few weeks, it was wet, mushy, slow and dotted with a plethora of mud pits the likes of which few dare to tread, or pedal. As I prepped my bike and kit/gear on Saturday afternoon, I vowed I would not repeat last year’s disappointment of poor nutrition, both pre-race and during, and a lack of discipline, going out from the start way too hard. I knew I was doing so, I told myself I was doing so, and yet ego prevented me from slowing myself down. Fjallraven Kanken Kids As a result, I completely bonked just over halfway through and limped back to the parking area with a 32 mile DNF. That’s Did Not Finish, only a half-step above the ultimate disappointment of Did Not Start. This year, a complete reversal. I was up early – OMFG early at 4:15 am – 45 minutes before my alarm and unable to even snooze. The benefit was plenty of time for a sizeable and filling breakfast. Solde adidas superstar I was joined for the two hour drive by friends Deirdre and Honey (yes, that really is her name) from the incredible and recently acclaimed #1 Female Cycling Team in the US by USA Cycling, Team Sticky Fingers. I snacked on a peanut butter thin pocket pita (YUMMY) on the way. As the sun rose the temperature rose steadily and after an hour of packet pick-up and bike set-up and waiting around, it was a comfortable 48 degrees at race start. Angel Pagan Jersey Off I (we) went at a reasonable but controlled pace. Ok, Plan A (a good breakfast) and Plan B (DON’T blow yourself up at the start) were in the box. Plan B was made considerably easier by the fact that the fire roads, while not in bad condition, were mushy enough to have a real effect on speed and effort. You definitely knew you were working harder than normal, which worked to my advantage as it was very easy to keep an easier pace, realizing I got very little gain for any additional effort. At mile 5, when you cross the road to the southern section of the park, is where things got tough. A bit less hilly, but a lot more sloppy. This section is always wet, even in the best of conditions. This year, Mud Bogs. Many hub/axle deep and thick as peanut butter (DIFFICULT TO PEDAL THROUGH!!!), the rest just enough to keep pigs…..and mountain bikers, mud splattered and giggly with enjoyment. I was overjoyed and even more surprised to complete the 20 mile first lap in under 2 hours, feeling good with the exception of some chafing. From that point, the course heads across the creek for an outlying 6 mile loop before coming back across the creek to repeat the course of the first lap. Nike air max 1 pas cher One great thing about this race is that as you start lap #2, you ride through the parking lot, making a quick stop at your vehicle for refills or adjustments convenient and efficient. I had plenty of food & drink but I did take a much needed opportunity to, uh, “re-lube” (my parts, not my bike) and shed a few clothing items. I was feeling really good. nike air max 90 pas cher Appropriately fatigued for the halfway+ point, but still strong and excited about lap #2. Plan C (in-race food & hydration) was working perfectly. I had been vigilant about sipping (or two good gulps really) from my Infinit bottle every 20 minutes. Infinit is a race fuel (liquid food) product I highly recommend. At hours 1 & 3 I took a Hammer Gel packet and hour 2, half of a clif bar, all on the move. nike air max pas cher This along with drinking water from my Camelbak every 15 minutes or so kept me well fueled and hydrated without having to stop to pee during the race. air max pas cher I felt good, didn’t get hungry and was able to tackle Plan D exactly as I planned. Plan D was the strong finish. Conserve again through the hills and mud of the first 10 miles and use what I had left to the finish. Nike Air Max Norge Nettbutikk Two good things about lap #2: fewer people around meant more freedom to ride, not having to brake for slower riders or wait and pick times to pass; Surprisingly, the warm weather and breeze had dried the fire roads a bit. They were noticeable less mushy and energy sapping. This however did NOT apply to the mud pits which, after having been accosted by several hundred riders, were even worse the 2nd time through. I miraculously managed to slog my way through without a much dreaded flop in to any of them, but there was a close call or two. A few were so deep I think I may have passed just the hands of some poor lost soul reaching out to……… or that may just have been my own nightmare. The truly hard part over, and now my legs beginning to ache from the effort, I put out all that I had left to the finish line. Crossing in 4:12:14 I was more than a little fatigued, but far more buoyed by the race I’d ridden.