Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Friday, March 29, 2013

Enchanted Rock Duathlon Race Report
March 24, 2013

by Gray Skinner

The Enchanted Rock Duathlon was my first race of 2013. After a long off-season and winter, I was ready to once again toe the line in a race rather than knocking heads with my training partners for another weekend! Having not put the body through the rigors of racing for nearly five months, I was not sure what to expect when race day arrived early on Sunday morning.

Leah (my amazingly supportive wife and running coach!) and I traveled to Fredericksburg on Saturday and stayed at the wonderful Cyclehaus. For those of you that don’t know, Cyclehaus is a B&B for cyclists in the Texas Hill Country. Staying there was great, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get out of town for a weekend or training camp. We then pre-rode the course in 85 degree temperatures

The wind howled through the night as the cold front rolled in. Race morning was a brisk 37 degrees F with howling winds. Setting up the bike in transition, I made the game time decision to drop the trispoke in favor of the less aero but more stable cosmic carbone in the front. Kept the rear disc in the back because I knew that I needed every edge I could get on the bike course (and partially because I have been influenced by the musings of Jack Mott!).

Race was a mass start and single file from the gun. Jamie Cleveland of Texas Iron set the pace from the beginning, with Andy Lee following closely on his shoulder. I tucked into third position on the opening single-track section and the race was on. I knew I had to limit my losses on the first run to have any chance of beating the multiple-time defending champ. I hung on behind Andy for the first 2.5 miles of the hilly 8k loop around the park. I was pleasantly surprised that I had managed to not be dropped by this point, and backed off a little as not to blow myself up too early. By this point it was a three-horse race, and I watched them run out of sight by the end of the first run.

Coming into transition, I moved with a sense of urgency as not to let the gap get any bigger. Going into the race, careful scrutiny of every possible relevant data point on the internets led me to believe that I needed to be less than two minutes behind coming out of T1. I had strategically positioned Leah with a stopwatch at the exit of T1 and was thrilled to hear that the gap was only 30 seconds! My confidence rose as I knew I was now in a position to use my strength (the bike) to win the race. I said to myself, “I’m here to win, mate!” a line I recently picked up from Chris McCormack’s book, I'm Here to Win, and got on with the business of catching the leaders. I caught Andy within the first couple of miles and then took the lead around mile 4. The winds were tough on the way back, something I relish as a former road racer. I hit the gas at the turnaround and never looked back. Coming into T2, I was not sure how far back the others were, but I was right where I needed to be, leading the race in T2 with at least a 1 minute advantage.

Back out the single-track, across the creek, through the gazebo, down the stairs and up the rock! Not sure I ran the entire way up, was pretty disorienting as there is no clear path to the top. When I saw the white flag for the finish, I was relieved to have been able to finish off this one and start 2013 on a high note! Final margin ended up being around 1 minute 30 seconds, and I was proud to add my name alongside superstar and three-time ERock Du winner Kat Hunter!

Thanks to Chris McDonald and Big Sexy Racing for their support, Missy and Don at Austin TriCyclist for help getting me on the P4, Redemption RaceProductions for putting on a great race, Jack Mott for help with the TriRig Omega, Jack Cartwright for being a great mentor and training partner and Sol Frost for the last minute tune up!

Gray Skinner is the  coach for the ATC Racing women's cycling team.
Full Results Here

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