The sine wave that is my cross season continued at Chainbiter. High in Maine, low at Gloucester, high in Bennington... means low at Chainbiter.
Things got off on the wrong foot when I ate it super-hard during the preride trying to show Zank and Ronnie how real mountain bikers deal with off-camber descents. Apparently they deal with it by going in too fast, crashing, knocking the wind out of the themselves and bruising their ribs. Who knew?
Thanks to the miracle of the human body, the true pain from this endeavour wouldn't hit me for a few hours, so I still made it to the (freezing) start line in race mode. Then we got delayed because of ambulances, for the 3rd time in my short career... there's just something about the race before B men that leads to ambulance trips.
Anyway, ten minute delay, everyone gets cold(er), we reform and it's go time. I'm in the 5th row or so and it's a tough uphill clip-in. I get it on the first attempt, get halfway through the pedal stroke and WHAM, Scott Rosenthal falls straight across my handlebars and I'm on the ground before I know what happened. It wasn't his fault but it doesn't matter, I'm on the ground and everyone else is gone in a flash. I try to remount and find out that everyone else is not, in fact, gone, because Ryan Rumsey is on the ground behind me and has his foot stuck in my spokes. He makes a very effective anchor so I have to let him get untangled before I can ride.
I get down to the right-hander off the pavement in time to make contact with the back of the pack. It's already 70+ riders strung out so I'm pretty much screwed, but I'm not going down without a fight. I fight through dense traffic all the way through the sand and up the climb, down on to the field... I've probably gotten 20 places back now. On the far side of the field though, disaster strikes.
I was riding impatiently, being too aggressive, and I ended up lapping wheels with another guy on the high side of the far off-camber section, just before the sharp left back down onto the field. He swings uphill to set up for the corner because he doesn't know I'm there and I have to go uphill to avoid him, which unfortunately points me directly into a hefty tree branch. There's nothing I can do except grab the bars hard and hope I can ride through it.
I can't. The branch is huge and my bars twist, and then I'm just flying through the air, landing on my chest, sliding down to the turn on the grass, sliding long enough to think to myself, "wow, I'm really sliding quite a ways here." Nick Bartow narrowly avoids breaking my ankles as I lie briefly on the racing line.
This time, I can tell that I'm done fighting. I walk glumly back to retrieve my bike as the tail end of the field passes me. I start riding again and pass, guess who, Ryan Rumsey, who has just broken his chain and is having just as bad a day as I am.
After that I'm basically riding for fun. I killed the sand a couple of times and managed to ride the runup once. I slowly move through the back thrid of the B's, working surprisingly hard as the laps go on. With one to go I pass a guy who stays with me... I am not pleased. I wish to assert my dominance on the backmarkers without being challenged, dammit!
He sits on my wheel for the whole lap. A couple times I gap him in the turns but he's awfully resilient about getting back on terms on the straights. I bobbled the runup royally and we head into the last minute neck-and-neck. I'm hoping that he will let me lead out the uphill sprint, I like my chances there, but after a lap of wheelsucking he has the audacity to try to jump me in the sand pit!
Goddammit I am not losing 40th freaking place in the sand!
He gets close but I still have the line over the curb, one last 180 and then an all-out sprint. I almost lose it on the paved corner, there's a little chirp as both tires slip a bit, but somehow I stay up and frantically sprint home for 40th... out of 59.
Ugh. It's funny how one moment of bad luck and one bad decision makes you want to write off a whole season of cross.
Tomorrow is NoHo, which people say is less technical than Chainbiter, so I'm guess the sine wave will continue...
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