Off to a new venue for my... hmm... 9th? 10th? season of mountain bike racing. I guess it depends on if you count my experiments back in High School with "junior beginner" class. In any case, I missed Hop Brook for basically the first time ever (because I'm sick of the course, honestly) in favor of racing road bikes at Myles Standish, and the lack of a Myles Standish race report should tell you all you need to know about how THAT went.
A miserable outing on the road, combined with a very mediocre base period, made me decide that maybe I should just be racing the Cat 1 race until I can turn a lap time that puts me above DFL in the Pro/1 race. So I signed up for my first age-group MTB race in years and joined 17 of my peers on the start line at Rocky Woods.
The "start line" at Rocky Woods was actually a new record for "worst holeshot" in New England mountain bike history, stealing the crown from Coyote Hill. Picture this:
|I'm sure we can sort this out in the first 10 pedal strokes|
1) Two rows of nine dudes each
2) 15 yards ahead of them is a lane that is two riders wide; maybe three if you really squeeze, bounded on one side by a chain link fence
3) 40 yards after that the single track starts and you have, at best, 10 passing opportunities in the next five miles.
|No problem Cary, I still have 3 more inches before I hit that fence|
I settled into line somewhere in the back half, because I am lazy and dumb, and I rode right behind Cary because that was really the whole point of coming to this race. I was rewarded for this decision by crashing directly into his butt two minutes into the race when our conga line of mediocrity encountered an obstacle that caused someone to use their brakes.
In a rare feat of strategery, I had ridden the first mile of the course and noted the few spots where you could attempt a pass, so once everyone settled down I was able to rectify my lazy-man start situation a bit.
I got somewhere up to around 6th or 7th, and then we passed the end of where I had pre-ridden to, and then I rode around staring at a guy's butt for twenty minutes straight because there was literally not a single opportunity to pass someone for MILES. The trail was fast, narrow, and boxed in by that dense scrub brush that flourishes on the cape and does its best to turn singletrack into zerotrack every year.
|Representative course photo.|
Finally, a tiny piece of atv trail gave me a chance to move up a place, and then two more luckily/fortunately/douchily timed passes gave me actual clear air to race a bike in, a mere 30 minutes after starting the race!
I rode at what I wanted my race pace to be for five minutes, and then I rode at what I actually thought my race pace was for five minutes, and then I rode a bit slower than that.
Somewhere along the line, lap one ended, and was most certainly NOT the five miles that had been advertised. (It ended up being seven, but the promoter "put five miles up on bikereg before he knew the course") Gosh, if it only was 2014, and we all had GPS devices in our phones and could update facts on the internet, this all could have been avoided!
Ahh and I said I wasn't going to complain about this race that much. Dang.
Meanwhile... I tried to use one of my lap-one passing spots on Jeff Fairbanks on lap two and it totally didn't work, but it had the affect of making me notice that my body was ready for the cyclocross race to be over, which was unfortunate as this was not a cyclocross race. My theory that I was "going to pass him and keep passing dudes until I won" was replaced with my theory that I would "ride behind him for a lap and then hope he felt more horrible than I did."
That plan was much easier to execute, although at several points during the lap even riding behind him was starting to seem like more discomfort than my soft little legs were up for.
Near the end of the lap I offered to "take a pull," which he accepted, only to swiftly disappear behind me. I briefly thought that operation "pass dudes until you win" might be viable, but that lasted all of five minutes until Matt Jalbert passed me like I was standing still.
So he put four minutes on me in a lap, which is nice for him.
I struggled my way around the course for a third time on an increasingly unpleasant hardtail, getting passed by the odd 40+ guy. I started trying to remember the last time I did an XC race, and I couldn't do it, which is probably why this lap seemed REALLY HARD.
I woke up kinda sick Sunday (and now I'm even sicker) so I'm hoping that was part of why stuff was HARD, too, but more likely bike racing is still HARD for everyone who isn't Kevin Hines.
I will make a sick bar cam edit later, just because I have to show you how ridiculous this holeshot was.