So, the season has arrived, I skipped 2 or three common season openers before arriving at Pontiac. It felt strange coming into my fist race so late in the season, but a minimal amount of time riding on dirt. Will skipping these warm-up races have a negative impact, or will I be springtime fresh?
I arrived at Pontiac Lake not quite as early as usual. It was good to have a shorter commute. Brain from The Motor Club was already set up, so I poached a seat under the canopy and chatted for a bit.
Soon enough it was time to get changed and start warming up. I spun around a bit and checked out the new Start/Finish loop around the field. I was a little tougher mentally, but nice for the folks not racing to see some of the action.
By the time that I finished warming, I saw the cattle being corralled for the start and worked my into the mass of carbon and metal. I found my group but had to settle for second row. I lined up next to Gus, while the big guns like Osgood and the KLM Power Duo of Lako and Gonzalez sat in front. We pushed our way forward awaiting our 10:04 start.
The seconds on the clock flipped to :00 and the surge was on. Once again the rider directly in front of me missed a clip and fumbled around. Fuck me, every race it seems I get caught in this. Strike one. I work around him as the train formed on the grass and headed to the dirt. Once onto the singletrack I was last wheel in the group and knew I had to start making up ground.
The troupe consisted of: Anthony, KLM:Power Duo, Osgood, Fedewa, Hemingway, and W9. (There may have been one other, but close enough). We stayed together surprisingly well, but soon the rope started to stretch with the 3 leaders pulling away. I made a pass on 2-mile climb to close on Osgood, but chose a sloppy line and ended up washing out. Strike 2. I quickly remounted and began the chase anew.
Before long we were down to a group of just 3 behind the leaders: Gus, Osgood and I chasing down Alex as he was left behind by Lako and Anthony. The 4 of us congealed and stuck together for a bit, with nobody making a move. After a short while, the leader from the next wave (Wissink) caught us and I waved him through on the left. As he began to pass the cluster of riders, it was my intention was to jump on his wheel and follow him through. Just as I pulled alongside the group, Osgood had the same idea and snatched my line. The passing window immediately closed, and I was now at the back of a group of 3, with Osgood pulling away. I missed my chance. Third strike. I stayed on the back of 3-pack for a bit longer, looking for a place to make a move and try to chase down Osgood.
Then it happened, we came to the mud hole on mile 8. All 5 of the riders immediately ahead of me went to left, so I thought “Screw it” and decided that I was going to go straight through the middle and see what happens. As I came to the mud I saw a log bridge/ladder on the far right side, and heard a commotion to my left. I hit those logs full tilt and came busting out the other side. I don’t know what happened on the left, but I was now directly behind Wissink and had a gap on Osgood and the others. Home fucking run! (OK, I know enough about baseball that it is highly difficult to get a home run after a third strike, so I guess one of the earlier strikes was actually a foul tip.)
I tried my best to stay on Wiss' wheel and increase the gap behind because I knew Ozzy wasn’t going to let me get away easy. I kept Wissink in sight almost the remainder of the lap. I didn’t see John, but I thought I heard his name as he came through the finish area.
Lap 2, the moment of truth (Ok, more than a moment, but less than an hour). The race was now a Time Trial like years past. I hit the singletrack solo and trying to maintain my speed. At the switchback on 2-mile climb I saw the Red/Black/White & Mavic Yellow charging up behind and I put in a dig. I wasn’t going to get caught, not this time. I continued to push my pace, and I think I may have passed a couple riders along the way.
One was a wearing blue and white, which I thought could be a KLM jersey. I closed the gap on those two by the top of the climb. On the short descent to the 2-track KLM got a bit of a gap and by the time I hit the final flat I was at full steam to make the pass and close it. On the grass to the finish we were side-by-side and I realized it wasn’t Lako but kept up the effort across the line.
When the dust settled, I finished in 2nd place, a tie for my best Expert finish ever, and probably my least miserable effort. I didn’t stay around long after the race, as the rain began and I am a sissy when it comes to the cold.
Terrific outings both fellow Twin Six reps Jorden Wakeley (1st Elite, duh!) in the Metal kit and Brain (4th Expert 40-49) and Ken (5th Beginner 40-49) representing the Motor Club. It was Kenny’s first MTB race, and the conditions out there were less than ideal for the afternoon groups, but he fought through and got his METAL. Let’s hope he stays there.