There is a MTB race series in the Connecticut/Massachusetts/Vermont/New Hampshire area known as the Root 66 Race Series. This is the series that I was going to race in in April, but could not get too.
Since I am in CT this weekend I looked to see if there was a race close to where I am staying and sure enough there was. Today’s race was about an hour away in Ware MA. I decided to sign up.
Little did I know how this decision would set off a firestorm (and lead to a new career).
There were two really really important decisions that had to be made.
The first was what kit to wear. I mean it’s important to know what kind of image you want to project.
The second was to decide what category to race in.
I had two kit choices: Leadville or Fat Cyclist. I did what any good person would do, I posted my dilemma on the Book of Face. The pretty clear choice was the Fat Cyclist kit. Two things sealed that choice.
One was this message: “Elden Nelson: I’ll pay you $5 to wear the Fat Cyclist kit. There, now you’re a sponsored rider.”
(Author’s Note: It was super exciting to be riding for THE Fat Cyclist. I mean he is a world famous blogger, Leadville Champion, has a perfect head, and is humble to boot. I did of course have to reconcile that with his clearly checkered past. But in the end I decided to sell out.)
The other was the location of the race. It was on this road:
That is like a sign from a higher power to a FC sponsored rider. I think only “Guacamole Way” might have been any clearer. FC kit all the way.
Then onto what category to ride in. This is where things got complicated. The two real choices I had were Cat 3 (novice) or Cat 2 (sport). Cat 1 (expert) was not a consideration. The first time I every raced a XC race I raced in Cat 1, and well it was a lonely, lonely race.
Here is the problem. I am in a strange place for this kind of race. I have raced exactly 1 XC race in my life (see the previous lonely lonely experience). In that sense I am a novice. But having raced in Leadville, well not so much of a novice.
The Book of Face entered into the equation once again (Author’s Note: the name was changed here to protect, well he’s not so innocent, but I changed the name anyway):
“Sam Houston” What category?May 27 at 9:21pm · Like
Doug Bohl I signed up for Novice. It’s a lack of XC racing experience thing. This will be my second XC race.May 27 at 9:23pm · Like
“Sam Houston“ Novice???? I call BS!May 27 at 9:24pm · Like
Doug Bohl I have raced exactly 1 XC race, and if you recall, I didn’t spend anytime racing anyone in that race (because I was dropped 5 minutes into the race). Not planning on letting that happen here. So I plan on actually being around people. Figure I should have some experience racing single track before I move up. I actually put some thought into this.May 27 at 9:27pm · Like
“Sam Houston“ “…some thought into this.” Well, there’s your first mistake!May 27 at 9:46pm · Like
I believe this is when the term “sandbagging” first reared its ugly head into the discussion of this race. My brother kicked into the discussion and officially labeled “sandbagging” in an XC race as beating the second place guy by more than 2 minutes.
And so now I was a sponsored rider, with a coach, riding in the Cat 3 (novice) division of a race. Without knowing anything about the course or the people who race this series, my “friends” were expecting that I would not only win but so outmatch anyone that I would win by more that 2 minutes. What could possibly go wrong?