After 13 days without racing I was getting pretty antsy, and more importantly, I was running out of blog fodder. There's only so many ways to write "I freaking love riding at Otis," you know?
Fortunately, today brought the King of Burlingame MTB TT to me, a very different and very awesome kind of mountain bike race. Being an individual start and only 7 miles, it had a lot in common with a 10k ski race and bore little resemblance to the 2-hour, soul-crushing beatdowns that most mountain bike races are. Given that I've done a ton of the former and tend to suck at the latter, I considered this a good thing.
It turns out I was lying big time when I said it was only an hour from Boston. It's actually closer to two, and I can never make another "LOL RHODE ISLAND IS TINY" joke again, because I got up at 5-freaking-30 to drive down there.
The early departure was worth it for the preride, since I really wanted to get 14 miles in for a 3.5 hour round trip and I was sure as hell not riding after I finished. The preride revealed a mostly-dry-but-occasionally-wicked-muddy course, and also a good deal of flat and smooth roadie-tastic sections punctuated with technical rock gardens. Post-ride, Linnea and I retired to the car in a vain attempt to warm up before racing while whimpering about how our legs were going to get ripped off on the smooth sections. You might think a whole cross season of whining about that kind of thing would get it out of my system... but you'd be wrong.
Start time kind of snuck up on me so I didn't really warm up, I kind of just rode a bit on the road to make sure it was still cold out and then went to the line. Thanks to various no-shows I ended up with a minute cushion in either direction (should have been 30 second intervals), so it figured to be a lonely effort.
I had my Garmin on the bars with the timer in SUPER BIG FONT so I could actually read it, the idea was to go hard from the gun and hang on, convincing myself to keep the pain up by counting down the minutes remaining. Of course by the top of the first climb I had to shift into "just hang on" mode and when I looked down my clock said 3 minutes. Ooh, this one is going to hurt.
Riding a 30-minute race is really cool, I got to use my big ring way more than usual and ride everything much more aggressively, sprinting out of corners and lunging through rocky sections. I thought to myself, "hey, this must be what it's like to be John Peterson... except I'm getting tired."
Around the halfway mark I caught my one-minute man, which seemed to be pretty good news except I remembered overhearing him say pre-race to someone "so I decided to take [someone's] spot, man I'm gonna get killed in Expert!" On top of that it turns out he had gone over the bars early in the race and possibly broken his collarbone.
Every time I thought I was getting toasted, though, there would be a little downhill rest, so I was able to keep it mostly in the big ring and mostly all-out. Near the end I caught my two-minute man (surprising!) and he told me there was another guy just ahead (!!), so I tried to hang on to going stupid-fast right to the line, where I got my 1:30 man (wtf!).
I'm either in surprisingly good form early (yeah right) or a short, solo race really plays to my strength (more likely). Either way, I ended up clocking 31:23, good enough 4th overall and a sweet new fender for my commuter bike.
Total fluke or mostly a fluke? We'll find out next week at Hopbrook, because you can't fake two hours...