Bloomer Park isn't one of my favorite race courses. It isn't that I don't like the race, or the trail, just that the terrain doesn't work well with my hack style of riding. So the week leading in, I wasn't feeling terribly confident or excited.
Of course, the constant onslaught of rain all week did not bode well for my training leading in, add to that my lack of motivation to ride the sit-and-spin, and is a recipe for flat legs. The only ride I was able to squeeze in was a short 3 hours the day before. Was this the smartest idea? Probably not. But with my history of this race in mind, I went with it.
I arrived at the park as the gates were opened. I was anxious to to a preview of some of the course to determine how the reroutes affected the course. It seemed it was a mile shorter than usual, with some climbing removed. I was able to notice the branch left as the trail crosses the road near the finish. I think several riders did not.
Time to line up for the start, and like usual, nobody wanted to stand next to Lako, so I stood there so it looked like he had friends. Soon things filled up with Pongo, Osgood and Anthony. The standard collection.
When the race started, we all took off up the short grassy climb, It was a bit of a match sprint. Nobody wanted to jump on the front, and it was becoming a slow speed stalemate. I eventually took the lead as I figured I wouldn't be surprised by any of the trail features, and my slow speed wouldn't allow me to get dropped.
I don't know how hard I was going. I just tried to get through the early sections a cleanly as possible. During the ups ans downs I noticed we were a bit spread out, but reasonably close, with Brad and Anthony on my wheel. Through the switchbacks relatively cleanly, and onto the first flats. I stayed right hoping somebody would pull through, but no joy. 180 degrees on the next flat and still no relief. I rode up on another ride just as we turned back onto the trail, and splashed straight through a puddle.
Unfortunately, we were supposed to turn right, as I quickly realized. I yelled out "We missed the turn" and jumped off the bike, ran through the creek and up the hill. Back on the course I could not put in an effort to put in any time on the others as I could not get clipped back in. Fortunately for me, nobody wanted to come around still, and I was back on the front. I pulled through until the cricket field, where I pulled up and Brad and Anthony came around.
I stuck to their wheels for the rest of the lap, and most of the second lap. They put in some space on the field again, and a bit more in the last section of singletrack before the start finish.
Lap three they continued to pull away. My lap times showed some consistency through this lap, but I was unable to close in on the two leaders.
Lap 4 and I think the previous days efforts were starting to show. Early on I still felt like I was working hard, but not getting anyplace fast. I had essentially resigned myself to trying to remain in 3rd place. Along one of the straights, I heard 2 riders coming up quickly, so I move to the right (off the good line) to let them by. As I did, one rider yelled "Right, right" as he was already passing. So I moved left to give some room when the other guy yelled "Left, left!"
My mind quickly formed the response of "Oh, I am so sorry gentlemen, I did not realize that there was an ongoing bicycle race and you two were the only participants. Please allow me to to clear the way to ease you in your travels" but unfortunately, all that came out was "Call your passes fuckers!" Not quite as eloquent, but it must have had an impact as the both turned around.
Finishing up the race, I heard the sprint finish of Lako and Anthony as I was turning in alongside the road to the final dirt before the finish. I rolled across solo. I continued back out back towards the cricket field to cheer on Brain and Aryn as the come in to finish.
Once we were all in, it was time to swap stories (2 missed turns at the water, and one missed left at the road), and have a beer.
Then it was the time for the awards. Brad was top step yet again, Anthony second, I had third, and it was good to have Johnny up front as well. Aryn moved up a bit in his result, and Brian put in a solid effort as well.
All in all it was a good day. A third place at a race I normally don't do well in, and course I didn't feel suited for. My only regret was not bringing more beer.
Thanks to Gail Osgood for taking some nice pictures in the absence of our team archivist.