Sunday was my first "real" race of the season. Weeping Willow in Ipswich Mass. This was to be the race that told me just how pathetic my training attempts had been this spring. To be honest, I expected I'd be able to hang near the front, it was just a question of how near. Mike, Kara and I made the trek down early Sunday morning and found the trails to be pretty freakin sweet (see photo of Mike above). Ribbons upon ribbons of fast, flowy singletrack with double track sections interspersed so that there were passing opportunities. Pretty much an awesome place for a race. Unfortunately, Mike and I were a bit uninformed when we went out for a full lap pre-ride before the race. We thought that we were doing three 7 mile laps but it turned out that we would be doing 2 10 mile laps. That meant that what started out as a good pre-ride with plenty of time to do final prep afterwards turned into a mad dash to get to the line in time for the start.
I nabbed a front row starting position and found myself third wheel as we entered the 1-something mile opening double track first section of trail. Perfect positioning. Sadly, the first guy over cooked the very first corner and the second guy fumbled on a short climb so I quickly found myself in the lead. Not what I wanted. I like to stay near the front at the beginning of races but not on the front since I'm a bit of a slow starter. So, I soon sat up and let three guys rocket past me right before the first single track section.
mad dash at the start
I jumped off the bike to assess the situation and soon found that I had slit my sidewall on a rock in the opening double track section. The stans was trying valiantly to seal it but it wasn't holding no matter how much tire shaking, adding air, and swearing I did. Soon, I was out of co2 and decided to add a tube. What should have been a quick fix turned into a jittery, messy, fuckity fuck fuck of a time. First, I couldn't get the stupid nut off of the stans valve and then, when I did manage to get it off, there was so much stans in the tire (newly mounted tire = ricky adding TONS of stans for good measure) that getting the bead back on was a nightmare. My nerves weren't helping either. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (and turns out to be 16 freaking minutes when I look at my gps info) I was back on the trail and hauling ass.
The rest of the first lap and 1/3 of the way into the second I had a fire in my belly and a desire to make amends but after a while I realized that I was only catching the multitudes of sport riders who had gone past during my stop and almost no experts so my pace dropped to a fast but not quite race fast pace.
I considered bailing since I was so far back but the course was far too fun to do that and I needed the training so I stayed out and ripped it up as much as my mojo would let me and ended up finishing 20th in our class and 23 minutes off the pace. Bah humbug!
post flat. still having fun
KillBill, meanwhile was out there killing it, taking over the lead and winning by about a minute. Stupid, I just started racing expert so I think I'm royalty, Alby also put in an impressive race taking third overall on the day.
KillBill on his way to the big V
Mikey boy also had a solid race coming in about 8 minutes off the wining pace. Not bad considering the top expert finishers times would have put them in the upper half of the elite field.
My brother, Rus, also made it out for his first race in what looks like ages. No racing for a few years added to EFTA's silly rule of not being able to drop a class meant that he was racing in the expert class. I think he had fun, but based on his facebook posts, it might not have been.
Mike showing off the spoils of a hard ride. Treating ourselves to Otto's pizza on the way home.
Sadly, I can only blame myself for my dismal race result. KillBill had TOLD me to get the snakeskin version of the Racin Ralph but I opted for the slightly lighter no snake skin version instead and it cost me the race. Would I have won? Hell-freakin-no but looking at the times I most likely would have been in the top 3-4. Ah well, there's always the next race...