Written by Kevin Ryan Saturday, 19 August 2017 00:00
The Bond Brook Tread Fest is on my “must do” list of races every year. Augusta is just 45 minutes away, and the riding is excellent with a great mix of technical and flowy sections.
This is the second year of the updated format for this race. BBTF began as a typical cross country race several years ago (2013?). However, as of last year the Tread Fest is now two day event with three stages: time trial, enduro, and a six-hour endurance race. I have not yet participated in the time trial or the enduro, but I have now done the six-hour race twice. Last year, I did the race as a two-man team with Bikeman racer Warren Gerow. Warren is faster than I am so to keep the gap between our times as small as possible I went just as hard as I could every lap. To date that race was one of the best – Warren and I battled the first place team neck-and-neck for the entire race. (More details on that in last year’s race report.)
This year, I decided to race solo, so I tried out a new strategy which is, not to go full bore at the beginning of the race. With a heart rate monitor and GPS, I now have real-time feedback on how hard I’m going by proxy of my heart rate. What I’ve done for many endurance races is go out hard, feel good for a while, have a mid-race slump, and then finish in survival mode. This year I was determined not to enter the “black place.”
Last year the race course was bone dry. This year, the sky opened up and it poured just before the start of the race – just enough to make conditions a bit more treacherous than normal and make sure racers got an adequate coating of mud. The slippery, wet conditions at the starting line actually helped keep me in check, though, and I kept my heart rate at or below my threshold. Instead of charging to get ahead of as many folks as possible, I stayed steady and just let people go by. I figured many of these folks were racing as part as of a team and could afford to go out harder than I could.
Two laps in I jockeyed back and forth a bit with a racer on another team named Scott. He was friendly and we ended up doing several laps pretty much together. The slight bit of conversation helps pass the time when doing the same course over and over again.
Another nice aspect of the race was Bikeman teammate Rick Nelson had a tent set up at the pit area. I was completely solo that day (i.e., wife and kid not in attendance) so I’m grateful that Marcy Nelson and Donna Geib filled in as my pit crew. They filled a few bottles for me and kept me informed as to what place I was in. (Thanks Donna and Marcy!).
My strategy worked out well and I ended up completing eight laps (46.7 miles total), coming in second in my age class. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely suffered during the race but I don’t think as much so as if I did not dial it back a bit for the duration of the race.
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