In response to the Open Letter you wrote to me a couple of weeks ago on your blog (I mean it was written to me right? Because clearly you are hugely interested in my racing career. I mean we HAVE ridden together in one race and I know it was a pivotal moment in your life! Love the blog BTW. Did you know you are a talented writer? I hope people read your blog. It could really be something big. You could definitely become beloved with something like that.) I am here to tell you about how my race this weekend went.
In case you forgot (or just have been out training for some 400 mile road race or something and missed it), I did my first XC mountain bike race. I did in fact list four reasons why this race was going to be a blood bath. Let me just say, it was a blood bath. This race was an intercollegiate race that allowed for non-college students to race in the “open” category. The open riders were placed in the Group A class. What’s group A you may be asking yourself. Well in the USAC world this would be equivalent to the CAT 1 mountain bikers. Yeah somewhere along the way USAC changed the mountain bike classifications from something sensible to CAT 1, 2, 3. In REAL terms, I was in the “pro/expert” class. Yes that’s right, in my very first XC mountain bike race ever I was placed with the pro/experts. (Uh, yes there were pros in the race. The race organizers had apparently heard of my exploits at Leadville this year and decided to promote me). Did I mention that I was the only person over 25 in the race? I mean whats 20-25 years difference between competitors right? Clearly they were impressed with my pink FC kit and overlooked all the rest of the details about me.
How’d I finish you are asking? DFL. (If you don’t know what DFL means I would bet you could search on Google. This is a family blog and so I cannot spell it out.)
How’d my race go? Well there was a bunch sprint at the start to the single track. It was during that bunch sprint that I realized I was an old and slow person on a bike who was totally out of his league. We got into the single track and I did my best to keep up. But they were just too fast and I was dropped. Halfway into the first lap (we did 4 laps, about 30 minutes per lap) I was pretty much alone on the course. With about 1:45 of racing left to go I needed a new game. Something to keep my head involved in the ride. So I invented some new goals.
Goal number 1: No one from the “B” group would pass me on my first lap. The “B”, I mean “Sport”, class started 3 minutes after the “A” class. I knew there were a couple of fast guys in there too. I did not want to be passed on the first lap by one of them.
Goal number 2: No one from the “A” group would lap me. Given how fast they went out, with 4 laps in the race I considered this to be a real possibility. I would not let that happen.
Goal number 3: I would pass someone before the race was over.
With these new goals in mind I rode on. At the end of my first lap I noticed two things. My GPS was never turned on. CRAP. On it went. (I continue to prove that if there is no GPS record then the ride really did happen. No one seemed interested in restarting the race. Well there was no one around to ask.) And no one had passed me. Check on Goal 1. (It would not be until half way through lap 2 that someone from Group B would pass me.)
I kept going on lap 2 and finished it. When I looked at my GPS my average speed was 9.6 mph. That number is about 1 mph faster than my fastest lap speed ever on that trail. I had lowered my best lap time by 3-4 minutes (its a little hard to say exactly because the course was not exactly the same as what I normally run).
On to lap 3. Still going strong. I knew that if no one from group A passed me on lap 3 then I was home free on Goal 2. Out of the woods and onto the two track back to the start/finish line. Not passed. Check on goal number 2. Into the woods for lap for lap 4. Now I needed to hunt someone down. I got past the middle of the lap and saw someone heading back in. My rabbit! I picked it up and hunted him down. He was clearly suffering greatly (I think he picked up his pace when he heard me, but almost ran into a tree. Then he let me pass.) Off I went. I assume he wasn’t a group “A” guy but a “B” guy I lapped. Either way I call it a victory. When I got almost to the finish line I saw another rabbit. I accelerated and ran that person down. It was a girl from the another group behind me (one of the “A” women). I didn’t care it was a girl (I totally “guyed” her) and flew past her on a small climb. Over the finish line.
I asked the guy who was running the race if I got age adjusted time. He smiled and said yes of course. (Somehow they forgot to adjust my time on the sheet. I am sure they will fix that at some point.)
I made it. I finished my first true XC race. I didn’t crash. But this race is really hard for me to figure out.
In an absolute sense, I finished last. By a lot. I finished far back from the group I was in.
OK. Deep breath. I did the best that I could. In fact I did better on a single track than I ever did before. I had good flow. I didn’t crash. I had a good pace. I was passed by 4 or 5 of the group B riders. I would have finished somewhere around 6th (out of 25) if I had raced in group B. I would have won the group C (“novice”) race. I ended up 3rd in the “open” class. (Yes, Yetti I know there were only 3 open riders. Be quiet.) And I won the age 40-45 expert class.
Still it wasn’t fun. Let me tell you watching the guys you are supposed to be racing motor away from you (even if it is totally expected) sucks. It hurts. Guess there is more work to do….
BTW. Do you have anything to get me back to being 25 years old? Do you think a pair of Assos cycling shorts would have helped? I hear you are a big fan of Assos clothing.