As I hit the Vermont border the rain started. "Oh this can't be good" I thought.
Stopping at the rest area for a nature break I cursed myself for removing my undershirt from my back pack as the rain chilled me. But when I got to the actual race venue, things began to let up, and the chill started to fade from the air.
James and I hooked up for a pre-ride lap. Things were slick, but my Conti Race King's were handling the slop better than I expected.
Lining up we had a huge field. I don't think the economic down turn has effected grassroots mountain bike racing; fields seem bigger and bigger!
The whistle blows and I get the holeshot. I get to the woods first, only to be passed by Jonny Bold on the first descent. I keep him in sight and pass him on a climb before the first technical section (James had pointed out on the pre-ride I would pass Mr. Bold there). I was thrilled to be leading Jonny for whatever short amount of time I would; when he and his teammate Kevin Hines line up, the top steps of the podium are spoken for. This bothers some, but I like the challenge.
As things turn down again Jonny passes me and starts building his lead.
Another Corner Cycles rider and I swap 2nd and 3rd back and forth. Hill goes up Charlie moves forward. Hill goes down Charlie falls back.
On the last descent of the first lap, another Corner Cycles rider, and Matt from Bike29 pass me. I pass them back on the climb to the start/finish, only to be passed en mass on the first descent.
I keep the group of 3 in sight on the second lap (Bold is long gone), and pass them on the final climb again.
The third lap, I lead our group for the most part. The course is getting super slick. The climbs are really starting to suck the energy out of me. On the final climb, Matt and I have separated ourselves from the Corner Cycle boys (well, if you can call guys racing 40-49 "boys"). About 3/4th of the way up the climb, I spinout. I think I stayed in front of Matt, but by the bottom of the first descent we were together again.
He took the lead on a descent. My hope was I could repass him on the big climb up the back of the course. I made it about halfway up, and just didn't have anything left to give. I had to take the "walk of shame". Every step, Matt put just a little more real estate between us.
Now my focus turned to damage control. I had about 1.5 miles to go, with a couple hike-a-bikes, and one slick, steep climb to go; I just wanted to preserve whatever position I was in (I wasn't sure at the time if I was in 3rd or 4th).
Last hill, again I only made it about 3/4th up before I spun out. Quick peak behind showed I'd hold my place to the end. Pushed my bike to the closest not slick spot, fumbled clipping in and crossed the line.
When the results are posted, I did get third! That's my second podium this year, and gives me a strong hold on 3rd place overall.
A couple of race notes:
- At first I was thinking my tire choice was a bad one, but after thinking about it for a while, I don't think I have any other tires that would have performed better.
- After rinsing off my frame, my bike still weighed about 1.5 lbs more than it did when clean from all the mud still stuck in the tires
- They sure got the name right; my Garmin recorded over 3600' of climbing for the 4 laps