ALWAYS CHASING | EF CORNER | JUST THE DIRT
by John Petrylak
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At one point I remember looking down at my Garmin and thinking should we be going 18 mph on single track, uphill?
After 2015 NUE champ Keck Baker welcomed a new baby to the family I thought that be a good time to ride with him. I figured he would be like a zombie from lack of sleep and that would be a good time to take advantage of him....WRONG
I met Keck on his home turf to do some specific work for the upcoming 2016 Marathon National race on June 4; more on this later.
We started off at a nice easy tempo pace and I was quickly fooled thinking that this was not going to hurt. After 30 minutes on roads, sidewalks and a construction site? We made it to Freedom Park and hit some of the most incredible dirt in the Commonwealth of VA. You could rail the turns without ever touching the brakes. I was able to hold the champs wheel and even thought for a moment "I hope we are going to be riding harder than this".
Then we stopped for a moment to regroup get a snack and got started on the "A" loop......30 seconds later I was now doing a solo ride!
I could catch little glimpses of Keck flowing and swooping through the woods like he was being pulled by some magical force. The rest of the 4 hour ride was exactly like this; but it might have been the best high intensity training besides a race I have ever done.
Less than a week later it was time for the Miller Schools Conquer the Hill marathon XC race.
It was a fast and tough race; on the first lap I got a really good look at the course by dragging my face across the trail, twice. The reality is I'm not a super-fast starter so I seem to be always chasing the lead group to stay with them. After catching a few glimpses of Jeremiah Bishop, Keck Baker, and Matt Bailey (this would also be the podium after 4 hours) I was starting to close the gap. Then I abruptly ran out of talent doing a creek crossing and took a nice trip over the bars face first into the mud. I quickly jumped up to make sure no one saw what the hell just happened. After that all I could do was keep pedaling hard and stay focused and then I went into a rocky corner too fast and disaster struck again. After I found my bike I got back on and started all over again only this time the handle bars are pointed in the wrong direction. Yikes! That's not good, some yanking and beating did the trick.
I brought my beaten body in after 5 laps in 4th place.
Now back to Marathon Nats in GA on June 4. I "put all my eggs in one basket" as they say for this race. Every moment on my bike has been dedicated to this race since late winter. I traded riding my beloved mountains in the GW for the foot hills and flats of central VA. According to Strava I have spent 142 hours doing 101 rides to get ready for Nats since January. I sure hope it all pays off.
ABOUT John Petrylak
At 37 years old with 2 busy kids involved in travel soccer, karate and ballet I gotta get creative sometimes to fit in my training. If it wasn't for my wife Amanda keeping things together none of this could happen.
I grew up riding my bicycle everywhere it was my most prized possession! That turned into riding and eventually racing dirt bikes. I raced motocross off and on from the early 90's through 2009. During this time I always rode my mountain bike to cross train but I was never serious about racing it. Then I was invited to participate in a 24 hour race on a 4 man team in 2010. After the first lap I was hooked!
I sold my dirt bike, started losing weight and rode the wheels off my mountain bike. Cycling has brought so many wonderful people into our lives and has created too many wonderful family memories to count. I started racing my mountain bike late in life but I'm happy to make up lost time!
VIRGINIA OFF ROAD SERIES | DIRTY SERIES OF EVENTS LLC | POB 14546 | RVA 23221