I got out to Yankee Springs a week before the race to drop down a couple laps on the new Niner (with a Giant front wheel, thanks Jesse)! This was the kickoff to my first mountain bike race season on a geared bike, and in "Expert" territory. Please note the " " around expert, as I feel the term can only be loosely applied to my cycling ability.
So 3 laps at Yankee, under some of the best conditions I had ever seen the trail. All decent times, although the laps were not continuous. I felt OK going in to this race. Times slightly better than the previous year, and perhaps in the general vicinity of competitive.
Fast forward to race day. I head out early, way early because I don't like to be late, and because with this new category also comes an early starting time. Flying solo because the missus had something better to do (other than sleep in). I got to the Springs as the first teams were setting up along the finishing stretch. It was cold, frosty cold. I picked up my packet and sat back in the truck with the heater on.
As I was chatting Mitch, an Elite racer (out the truck window, because I am a sissy), some weird dude comes up and starts heckling me. It turns out Max Bottomtime (or something like that) from the Motor Club made the trip over after all. So it was a brief catching up before he headed to warm-up for his elite start. I changed, and began riding around for my own warm-up. It was nice to have the warm-up loop available and not blocked for the kids race later in the day.
As race time approached, I headed to the chute and got ready. I wasn't really sure how I was feeling, but 'decent' would suffice. I had Team Kahuna cheering at the start, and when the number turned I was off. The first thing I recall was how windy it was in the open spaces.
I pounded through the first lap. Not really catching anybody, but not getting passed either. Around halfway I reached down for a drink and realized my bottle was gone. Not chance of turning around for it, so I kept going.
Lap 2 began, and I still felt decent. JTP had not passed me yet, so I had that going for me. As I approached the rough sections, I kept an eye open for my bottle, just in case. I probably lost some time off my pace looking around instead of hammering, but I was getting thirsty.
On one rough downhill section, I saw it ahead of me on the trail I stopped grabbed it and continued on. It was satisfying to finally drink, but I really don't know what would have cost me more time; stopping for the bottle, or dehydrating.
I don't recall having any major issues, or accomplishments during the race, just pedaled along as best I could.
When I finally popped out along the road for the second time that day, it was just a hammer to the finish. I caught up with another rider, but being the consummate gentleman that I am, did not pass at the line.
After being mobbed by all of my adoring fans, I caught my breath and headed back out with Sky from Team Kahuna for the kids race. She was the last through the start, so we cruised along at a good pace, and along with Frosty, I was able to stop and collect random dropped bottles and discarded Gu packs from along the course.
About 7 miles in I must have mucked up a shift, and my chain started popping, after a couple revolutions of this, it decided to split. Sky (and eventually Frosty) continued on, while I took out my handy-dandy Park tool. As I removed a link from the chain, the pin came out of the chain tool, and I was able to spend the next 10 minutes trying to put that back together, before finally fixing my chain.
|Jersey packed full of trail trash (the front mostly full of jelly beans)!|
I was able to catch up with Sky before the finish, and escort her most of the way, letting her cross solo to the cheers and applause. Then it was time to finally sit down by the fire, and eat some jelly beans, only for recovery purposes.
|Dave, Me, Frosty, Kahuna, Sky|
I was able to check the results after that. I finished 13th out of 39. Upper half, I guess that was OK. My overall time would have been good enough for 1st in 2011. Apparently I was NOT the only person who trained a bit over the winter. It appears that at least 12 other people trained harder than I did.
The good news was that Payn never caught me!