Last year I participated in my first stage race in Brighton. It was two of the most dreary, miserable days I have spent on a bike.
This year, the race was moved to Addison Oaks. There were a couple of new twists, beyond the location. The temperature was turned way up from the previous year, and for some reason, there was NOT to be an overall winner declared. There was an overall day 1 classification, and a day 2 (XC) award, but nothing for the three combined events. Odd for sure. It really isn't a stage race any more, but I guess naming it the "A Couple of Races at Addison Oaks on the Same Weekend" doesn't have the same ring to it.
We arrived Saturday with only about an hour to spare. A little tighter than usual, but I had enough time to set up "camp" and get a brief warm up in before the first event, the TT. I wasn't sure how I would perform this weekend, with the 12 Hour race still a bit in my legs from the previous week.
We lined up for the start, which was an out-and-back loop through the grass before hitting the trails. Just enough to put some work into your legs before the dirt.
Two at a time start, and I was lined up next to a KLM rider. He took off from the gate, and I tried to hold his wheel across the lawn as he took off like a shot. We entered the trail in the same fashion and he was pulling strong. There was a bit of a misstep in the loose, twisty stuff at the top of the first climb, and I was able to get around him. I tried to make a gap, but was soon caught by the time we reached the end of the first rock piles, and passed soon after.
I again closed on his wheel and let him pick the pace, which was sufficiently hard for me, but the rider up knew the course well and was working good. Then the problems came (for me).
I heard there were some reroutes added "after the RC field" to make the course different than the next day's XC race. What that meant was that instead of making a normal turn on the singletrack, we stayed straight onto some hiking paths with more grass and worn grooves. I believe the second time we did this, I hit a rut and my front tire got crossed up, pitching me from my bike and tossing me a ways. Not only was I annoyed by the wreck, my bar spun around and scratched my frame, and I got a grass stain on my new Einstein Racing kit!
Back on the bike, I fought to close the gap on the rider I started with, and a Cycletherapy rider that passed me when I was down. I was able to get the KLM rider back into sight, but never catch back on. We ended up finished 3rd and 5th respectively, with about 30 seconds between us.
I was still hoping for that elusive "clean race" I have yet to have this year (not counting Stony), but it did not come here. It was time to hit the shade, eat a banana and wait 3 hours for the short track race.