We were treated to some incredible weather this year and the weekend just carried a fun, Labor Day grill out kinda feel. The kids were all having a blast as were the adults. I was racing at noon in the "Elite Masters 35+" which is basically a full range of really fast guys to some more on the beginner end. The course was flat and fast, mostly grass with a single set of barriers after a gravel section then into a run up and hop on. There was a short "boggy" section, a bumpy, nasty root section and plenty of power sections. For a little guy like me, those power sections are KRYPTONITE! I was racing on a new carbon Specialized Crux that I had built up, nice and light and seemingly a fast bike.
I got some good warmup laps in and felt good on my cornering, slow on the power sections and really unsure of exactly where my fitness stood. Unfortunately for me the start call ups for our 80+ rider field were based on 2013 MAC series points....of which I had NONE. Meaning a second to last row start in a large field with all the fast guys up front. Think I had my work cut out for me? The key in these situations is to find the holes, avoid the crashes and not go too far into the red to make your passes.
I lined up on the outside for the LONG start stretch and carried as much speed as I could. Surprisingly I came out in a better position than I started. Always a plus!
|Right off the start, see me on the far left on the white bike. I had put myself in probably the best position possible. (Photo credit to www.dennisbike.com)|
|Still early in the race on Day 1. I'm on the far right. Lots of guys in front of me!|
(Photo credit to www.dennisbike.com)
We got changed, and just chilled, grilled, drank some beer and welcomed in cross 2013. The kids played outside ALL DAY and had more fun that we did (if that's possible). Home we went, recover for day 2.
That evening I got hit by something(s). To this day I'm not sure what, but my speculation is a combination of allergies and something I ate. I had a terrible head cold and my body was cleaning itself out, my stomach in a knot. I got the bikes ready, curled up in bed nice and early and hoped for the best. I woke up Sunday AM to overcast skies but still a beautiful day. Some remnants of pain in my stomach but I was able to put down some breakfast. We loaded up and got there in time to watch Jon tear up the Cat 4/5 race with a great 2nd place finish.
The course was run backwards and included a steep embankment into a log obstacle and a set of barriers. Luckily for me, the reverse direction helped me because the long straights were slightly downhill and required less power. The down side was the LONG, FAST start straightaway. Not a good thing when you're starting 2nd to last row again.
I lined up physically feeling much better than I had just hours before and mentally feeling back into the game and confident I could make up some ground despite my poor starting position. The gun went off and I got caught behind two guys who missed their clip in. I entered the first turn in nearly last, but powered through the mud and the rest of the back section, riding the tape. I came by our cheering squad on lap one to hear that I had already cracked into the bottom end of the to 20. Greg and Jeff were just in front of me.
Coming around for the end of the first lap I put in a hard effort out of a turn and ended up locking bars with another rider as we crossed a short section of loose gravel which sent me right through the tape and into two spectators. Luckily they held me up and I hopped back on the course. I had let quite a few riders by because it was still so early in the race and I was stuck smack dab in the middle of the mayhem.
|Early in the race on Sunday.|
(Photo credit to www.dennisbike.com)
As I recovered from my off track excursion I started to look ahead. I was slowly reeling riders in, sometimes two or three at a time. I felt good and I had some great lines and great places to pass. I think my days of motocross paid off bigtime, seeing lines and being able to use them. About half way through the race I caught Greg again. I thought we may be able to hook up and help each other out, but he had put some big efforts in early and he was cooked.
One thing that I found interesting was the log section. I didn't even try to ride it, I knew that coming from the back meant that there was going to be chaos there each lap. I committed to running the climb and the log each lap and I passed an average of more than one rider per lap in that section, by running it!
|The log section. Focused on the task at hand.|