My seasonal plans changed after not even completing 10% of the Bearscat 50 before crashing out. Longer endurance events are great fun but the high entry fee is tough to swallow after an unfortunate mechanical (but that's racing). Going back to my "home" series, The Root 66 series, seemed only prudent.
Just over a week after another unfortunate event I raced Bikes for Bovines and it was like a home coming. I missed all my racing friends and it was great being back in the fold. Being only the forth time I'd pinned on a number in 4 months and only the second time I had raced over 7 miles this year I was feeling a little rusty. I was pleased to be back racing and impressed with Adin's performance (he won the Cat1 SS race with a time good enough to also win his 30-39 age group).
Doing the usual internet prerace stalking, the competition for the Barn Burner looked stiff. There were the usual suspects, strongmen Shawn Mottram and Will Crissman, plus some local darkhorses, elite CX racers and youngsters. Fortunately there was some day of signups, unfortunately it didn't have the draw of the inaugural event.
On to the good stuff shall we...
The whistle blows and we are off. It's a long drag to the singletrack and after a wobbly start I'm able to slot into third position right as we turn into the skinny stuff.
Following Shawn and Will with the goal of keeping them in sight without blowing sky high I nail a rock with the distinctive metallic clang of rim v. immovable object. Looking down I notice one of my bottles has jettisoned right as the Real Tim Johnson comments he just lost a bottle too.
Shawn and Will are keeping a short gap on Tim and I which I'm pleased with. We all make it through the first rock garden clean and up the first little grunt. Other than dropping a bottle, everything is going as planned. This is great, I'm racing my bike on a wicked fun course, staying in the mix...when I completely bone an easy corner washing out my front wheel giving Tim the opportunity to pass.
He's picking great lines and it is good to follow him. But Will and Shawn are now disappearing around the twisting singletrack ahead. Tim has me almost at my limit but if I get to the front maybe I have little more.
When we get into a little more climby-ness I make a push and move back to 3rd position.
The leaders are nowhere to be seen.
Coming through the neutral feed, I go for some water maybe a little too hot only to have the miniature plastic cup explode in my face.
When I get back to the spot where a I nailed the rock I'm ecstatic to see my bottle lying on the side of the trail. Perfect I think. I'll pick it up on my third lap right when I need it!
I'm feeling good, picking off more of the the riders who started in the group before me.
I try going through the neutral feed a little slower this lap, netting an once or two of free water.
I get back to the spot where I'd last seen my bottle; it's gone!
It's hot and dusty, I'm only halfway through the race and out of water?
Panic sets in. How am I going to make it through? Do I stop at neutral support going into lap 4 and fill my bottle? Will I make it to lap 4? I'm already fading!
Then I see someone else's bottle on the side of the trail. Live off the land I think and pray it's not empty, gross, or has cooties.
3/4th full of a tepid fizzy drink. I'll take it and after a few long pulls am feeling stronger. I finish the bottle in short order and contemplating my hydration strategy for the remainder of the race. As I'm about to exit the singletrack and enter the start/finish loop I see friend, teammate and all around great guy Fabian. I ask him if he has a bottle, he replies and empty one.
That's okay. I'm feeling stable. I slow down almost to a stop and enjoy 4 ounces of neutral water.
Steady as she goes. As long as I don't blow up I think I've got 3rd locked down; I haven't seen or dared to look too hard for Tim in awhile.
And halfway through the lap, teammate, friend and all around great guy Fabian has filled a bottle, figured out how to find me and is waiting with the hand up.
I start to get caught by the leaders of the 50+ (fast old fückers) and I'm seeing the leading Pro woman through the trees but I keep Tim at bay and finish up on the podium.
Third in the New England Regional Championships; Daddy has some pizza money!
- I've got to rethink my hydration plan
- I'm really glad my new Singular frame didn't show up. Sure it's a great ride and I'm anxiously anticipating it's arrival, but if it had shown up I would have run a bigger gear than I did which would have been really painful
- Moving time 5 minutes faster than last year
- High attrition rate today. Lots of flats and the wind masked how hot it really was.
- Shawn thought it would be wise to race the fatbike race prior to The Cat1 SS
- Will thought it would be equally wise to ride the race and home
- I've really got to rethink my hydration plan!
- Bike racing; FüCK Yeah!!!