I am a dumbass (and a dork)
What else would you do with 60' of kraft paper??
Time and time again I'll scope out the start of a race - deem it "sprintworthy" then wuss out and take my time "easing" into to the race hoping I'll magically come out on top.
Start time costs results time exponentially when racing a course like this. It's like when you leave a little early to drive into Boston and get to your destination extra early. If you wait 15 minutes you get caught up in traffic - end result: arrival is now exponentially late.
So yet again - I took my time and sure enough -a massive bottleneck / traffic jamb going into and through the single track. If you have decent bike handling skills you have effectively tossed your weapons to the ground to be slayed by the equivalent of lumbering one-eyed giants. This is a battle after all.
Racer turnout was pretty huge. Some regional big guns were on hand - so worthy competition was not a concern in CAT 1 (yeah still hesitant to ride with the pros at this point)
Didn't mean to go artistic with this one.
CAT 2 start. Somewhere in here we can find Shawn Smith sandbagging.
I settled into the second row - and little by little lost ground chatting as we moved towards the start following each age group. At the start folks took off - me, not so much.
Into the single track and over the bridges was flat out frustrating. Aside from a couple of little climbs there wasn't alot of passing spots. By now the lead group was gone.
Finally after things opened up I was able to start picking off riders. The course was pretty dry requiring some care while slicing and dicing through the twisties. No sooner would you pass a few riders, then you'd find yourself stuck again going through the twists and turns. On the double track full TT position was maintained. A few of the sections had some strong headwinds - going aero was surely beneficial here.
At the end of lap 1 passing no longer involved much speed differential. I was still gaining on riders though. Excellent. Two of those riders were Corner Cycle dudes (Samuel Morse and presumably Bill Shattuck). Corner Cycle dudes are a crazy strong lot. Some anaerobic work was required - but after 2 or 3 climbs I was able to clean them off the plate ripping through the twisties. Next up: Robert Carmen from Team Edge. He was moving at a decent clip so I settled in for a few minutes. After some recharging - a pass on another uphill. He clung on for quite awhile taking advantage of the draft and line selection - commenting at one point "you must know these trails". We start putting a significant gap on one other guy who was in the mix.
I was feeling pretty good. Maybe too good. I'm not sure who the rider was - but we bridged up to this fellow - settled in a little bit - then I lit it up on a sandy climb. Operative word: Sandy. He was on the packed portion of the trail - while I slogged by through 3" or so of power sucking terrain (more stupidity). The pass was effective, but left nothing in the tank. Next wide open double track section - guess who passed me back?
Alright then, I'll hang on his wheel and light things up after some recovery. We come across Richard Pirro - who comments "I thought you started ahead of me" - Nope I am a slow starting wuss. Rich grabs onto the train. At this point there's 3 of us trailing the unknown soldier. We get to the paved section at the lap point and I continue to suck wheel. Stupid strikes again. This was the moment to get ahead before entering the single track. I hang on using very little juice. He's not a bad rider, but I am carrying more speed into corners and over obstacles. We get to a little wooden bridge section with an embankment on the other side and I nearly run into him while he slows. It requires turning to the left (tailgating is stupid) On the left: Two trees that are clearly not wide enough to squeeze through. CRAP!! - There goes Robert, Richard and that other guy.
I get back on course and gradually work at closing the near instant 150' gap. Having done a few races now - I know it's best not to get emotional and go charging to reclaim your position among the clan. Little by little I'm gaining. This is good on two counts: If I'm gaining at this rate - I should be able to drop them further along. I get within 15' or so and feel good about the effort. Then I forget to ride my bike. A rock maybe 3" around pops the front tire off line and me bike is heading straight for a tree. I leap off to the right and the bike hits the tree straight-on at the head tube. The impact is so significant that I take a moment to make sure everything is connected. Goody - nothing bad seems to have occurred. Meanwhile.. I hear a heavy breathing rider coming up from behind. DAMN, DAMN DAMN!!
Not only has the group ahead completely disappeared - now I got some dude behind me motivated and stuff. It's Sam from Corner Cycle.
On flats and uphills he can be heard closing the gap. On downhills and single track I can open things back up. We're cruising along a flattish single track section and Sam comments on the bike handling. Too bad it's not accompanied by fitness. Sam makes his move on a climb - but never gets too far ahead. I can reel him in when the terrain gets interesting.
Towards the end of the last lap that hill. You know the one if you've raced here. It's a run up affair - one part gawd awful, and one part comedy. Everyone is just gassed at this point while we inch our way up. It's all I can do not to stop and savor the brutality. I get on with it and proceed to pedal the last climb - Sorta.. At one point it turns into a 0.5 mph ziggy zaggy effort. The folks at the top are digging the drama. I re-align the bike with said course and torque the rest of the way up. Some one comments "unbelievable". At this point - I'll take it.
A last blast through a technical downhill section and around towards the finish.
Another rider is 20' or so ahead - full power is administered (he can see it coming) and I lose that duel by less than a second.
Phew!! That should boost the ole fitness.
End results 8th (!) A bitch-slap of a reminder that starting slow is not so clever.
Some overall results - includes all Pro and CAT 1
CAT 1 Youngsters
CAT 1 19-29
CAT 1 30-39
CAT 1 40-49
CAT 1 50+
CAT 1 Women
So the deal is - I'm at odds with where to enter the Weeping Willow. Run with the big dogs (there shouldn't be any traffic problems) or ease in and go CAT 1.
Methinks running with the big dogs would be a much needed follow up bitch slap. A one-two-three knockout for sure.