This ended up being a one race weekend for the first time in a long while, and I even had a free Saturday. It was a transcendental experience. I hung out, watched some WCSN cross, went to a park and learned how to remount. It wasn't really that big a deal it turns out, just have some coffee, lower the seat an inch and go someplace where no one can see your flailings. Anyway, nice to check off one of the easier season goals. I'm not gonna say it's perfect, but I figure doing it consistently in races will eventually get the kinks ironed out, much like how 1.5 seasons of stutter-stepping the remount led to me being really smooth about doing it the wrong way.
In exchange for not racing Saturday I decided to ride the 1/2/3 race at Slick Willy. With all the big time riders down at the USGP, this meant my chances of staying on the lead lap were good, and since many of the 3/4 blog-stars weren't in the race I wasn't missing out on throwing down with the Hup/Zanc guys.
The 3/4 race ended up having some pretty fast guys anyway, Rumsey, Coleman, Hofer, Awerbuch (wtf), and the newly scary-fast Cort. It was kind of fun to watch it and not be part of it -- Guenter got the holeshot with a big gap, Ryan Rumsey crashed on the track trying to close the gap, Ben Coleman caught him, then pulled past, then Awerbuch came out of the field and destroyed everyone. Later on Coleman either crashed out or mechanicaled and Cort just kept eating people up to take 2nd. So yeah, fun to watch because I have a good amount of experience racing most of those guys.
Anyway the sun was headed down and the crowds were leaving, must be time for the 1/2/3 race! We lined up with 15 guys, Ronnie S was nice enough to go straight from the 3/4 to this race and give me some company at the back. I think we both knew he wasn't going to finish the race, but hey, training right?
The race starts and I go straight to the back, not a big deal since I'm on some wheels and I have no business anywhere near the front. First time up the runup and somehow even in a 15 person 1/2/3 field we accordion enough I have to get off. I ended up running/sprinting the whole thing to stay in contact, which was a pretty bad idea that early on.
Stayed as the caboose on a group of 4 (11-14th) for most of the first lap, it was two IF guys who I think are serious roadies and non-serious crossers and someone else. We get to the track and I sprint hard to get into the draft, but there's not that much draft and a ton of drag on the soft track. These guys had serious legs and I discovered very rudely that I didn't.
So starting the second lap I pretty much blew up. They rode away and we gone. My legs, which had been questionable before the race, were now officially effed. I was at the back, and very lonely.
I thought about dropping out. I figured I would drop out when I got lapped, which was probably a few laps away. I had to stay in longer than Ronnie, right?
On laps 3 and 4 I was looking around a lot trying to figure out if Ronnie had dropped out yet, so that I could follow suit. The course had enough switchbacks that I could keep tabs on the guy in 13th, and the news was not good -- 13th was Chris Bagg, who pretty much owns me, and he was pulling away.
Then suddenly, on lap 5, my legs started to settle into the pain hollow (that's a small pain cave of course) and Alex Whitmore from Cambridge Bikes went backward fast. I heard him shouting to his supporters that he couldn't see, I'm guessing a lost contact or something, but in any case I swiftly pulled him back and hey, I'm beating someone! He's blind, but whatever, I'll pick on cripples if I have to.
More pain management for more laps. The cards were indicating we were going to ride a total of 11, I think I was looking at 4 to go or so when I notice another guy going backwards, it was one of the two IF guys. I caught him quickly but unfortunately he was kind of just riding for fun, he was talking back to his fans heckling him and really not racing very hard. I tried to go right past and distance myself before he thought about picking it up, but it didn't work, he got his race back on and rode my wheel for the rest of the lap. Then he dumped me easily on the track.
But all was not lost! The other IF dude slowed down a lot, I think he was waiting for him or something, and I caught back on and now it was three of us together with two to go. Yes, it's gotten to the point where I consider catching people who are deliberatly waiting for others as an accomplishment. Shut up. At one point one of them actually did do a wheelie when someone told him to do a wheelie. Man that hurts to see when you're still racing as hard as you can.
But anyway, these guys were lazy so I went around them. They could've kicked my ass but they would've had to at least work a little bit, I think. And they chose not to. So they got lapped and I held off Kevin Wolfson by 30 seconds to stay on the lead lap. Woohoo! Last guy on the lead lap! At this point everything was pretty well decided but I actually went full-out for one more lap trying to make the gap to Chris Bagg look respectable. And it totally worked since he wasn't racing anyone at that point!
So when the results come out you'll see I did "ok," but every single person I beat had a legit excuse for going slow (ok, the IF guys were just lazy, but still). Really, I got my ass kicked and had shit for legs. In retrospect it's pretty obvious why my legs were crappy but it was still surprising to be super-psyched to ride and then go slow.
I think I'm going to do at least one more 3/4 race this year. I'm not an embarassment to the 1/2/3 race, but I'm also not going to easily podium in the 3/4 race on anything less than a total mountain bike course. And if no one has slashed Rudy's tires at this point, I don't think I have much to fear.
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