Check it. I didn't even crash this time fumbling with the camera. Unfortunately within less than 2 seconds of taking this photo the cruise vanished. It was nice for the 2 or 3 miles that it did work. Face it, reliable jap cars just don't offer this kind of entertainment.
I got back to the car suited up and went for a warm up ride on the beginning portion of the course. After going a mile or so I headed back on the adjacent paved road. Right then and there I had to swallow my pride and admit it: It is effin cold. On the way back to the car I dropped by the Port-O-John. It was downright cozy in there. I really didn't want to come back out.
In the car I grabbed another pair of gloves because the ones I was wearing had already gotten soaked through. It was then the rain started picking up just as predicted: "80% chance of 0.25 - 0.5 inches of rain between 11:00 am and 1pm. Exactly in line with the CAT 1 race. Why couldn't the weatherman be wrong... whine, whine. Gripe, gripe.
I lined up with my new found CAT 1 racing pals and we all joked about how shitty the weather was. The announcer offered: The first part of the course is the most technical and there are two slippery bridges. If you need medical attention.. blah...blah.. blah.. What!!?? Medical attention?
The young-uns' headed out then the SS dudes. Then us old, but not really old guys.
Yet again I lulled myself into a casual start only to get behind quite a few riders through the first single track section. This part of the course is fairly flat but rooooty. With the rain things were greasy but not too bad. I kept just enough distance to prevent any problems if the rider ahead bobbled. In one spot I started to attempt a pass but the rider didn't seem to want to yield so I saved some juice for when things opened up.
The course finally opened up enough and I started to pass a few riders. For sure the speed differential was nowhere near that of last weeks ride with the CAT 2's - Ahhh... Finally some folks that are more my speed. Not only were they "more my speed" they got out of the way before I approached in most instances. I can only compare this to the difference between driving with some American drivers (you know who you are) to driving on German roads. They just get it.
The course continued along moderately up and down terrain that had some great flow in spots. At one point along the course there was a short ride on pavement. If you are on the fence about riding any mountain bike course with any paved sections I can assure you, it ain't worth fretting over.
I kept gaining on riders here and there and the passes kept getting noticeably less and less hasty. Was I near the front? Who knows. All throughout the race I just rode at my usual pace. About 3/4 of the way around I came up to one section that had the ingredients for disaster. A narrow steep sided gully running downhill lined with some soil that reminded me of that dreamy scene in "Ghost"
You know, Lucy went to school for sculpture yet doesn't own a pottery wheel.. That gives me an idea...
Right - back to the race:
So be warned: This section can getcha. You know how it is - if you start to scrape the sides of the gully, it'll induce a full front wheel flopover / washout.
The remainder of the course had a few more sandy soil double-track spots mixed in with the single track through a pine forest. Part of it runs right along the water. A nice spot with a few off-camber roots to trip you up if you start sightseeing.
At the very end - two short killer climbs. I can say with full confidence in my skillz: I did not ride up these. Between the steepness, roots and mud it made no sense.
On the second lap I heard a rider approach from behind (gasp!). It was a SS rider who was tearing it up on the techy flat section near the start. I moved over - and he hooked up with another SS rider who I had been tailing for a little while. They both moved fairly quickly - but after about 10 minutes I had to get past them. On anything uphill or downhill or along wide open stretches they just weren't quite fast enough. Off I went - never to hear or see them again.
On the third lap, things got progressively greasier - but the silver lining was that you started to remember where the sketchy sections were and started improving on key transitional lines.
On the last section of the last lap towards the end there is a rider ahead of me. I am having difficulty catching this guy. He is just out of reach. I make my way through the finish - no idea where I have placed. While riding back to the car I stop to chat with Andy Gould - who has just destroyed the 30-39 class. Right near him is another rider changing his clothes. He offers "you almost got me". I reply, really? - How'd you do? - He replies: "First" That was Mike Rowell.
Holy crap. I came within 16 seconds of first place.
Results - If you'd like to see where you came in but can't see your name, hit me up. The original photo is clear enough to make everyone out.
How muddy was it?
- There was mud all the way inside my shorts - lots of mud
- Everyone went home in the same uniform
- I gave up rinsing my socks till the water ran clear after 5 minutes each
So... Damn. I'm pretty happy with this finish. 16 seconds behind the 40-49 leader, 3rd overall CAT 1 - and a time decent enough to have bested Colin "Hey tourists, check out my wattage" Reuter in the elite class. Hee hee.. I soooo wish I was racing against him. It'd go something like this:
"Hey Colin..." (tongue hanging out while pointing at my grody white quads). "CHECK OUT MY... WATTAGE...!" I'm sure I'll pay for this - he was probably doing a recovery ride.
After I got home one of my biggest race fans put together a personalized award. Note the sword.
My biggest concern: Coming out with a bang and fizzlin' by mid-season. It happens I hear. I have been easing back on both effort and mileage the past couple of weeks. I hope to keep the train on track.
Next definite race, right here in my hometown: The Glocester Grind - the race that got this nonsense started in 09'
I might check out this one next weekend as my sister lives right in town. Don't want to overdo things though.