You can tell it's been too long since I raced (21 days) because I made another website just so I'd have something to write about here, aside what I had for breakfast (coffee, souls) of course, because who doesn't love a good blog entry about oatmeal?
Obviously, with three weeks off from the pack-up-and-leave routine and several months off from the this-is-what-I-need-to-bring-for-a-bike-race drill, things were bound to be a little rough. I successfully conjured up a race-able bike (my brake caliper didn't fall off until afterward, and I didn't flat, unlike about... 10% of the field) and a kit marginally related to my new team (IBC Elite MTB Team, it's like the old team except I have to ride faster or they kick me off), everything was going so well until I made the mistake of reaching into my car for my cell phone, with my clothing bag on my shoulder.
We were taking Thom's car, not mine, and I had to go back in to get directions, but it didn't matter -- opened a car door + bag on shoulder = ghost memory of being ready to roll. So it wasn't until 25 minutes later, when we were blasting down I-95, that my subconscious and conscious finally compared notes, and sure enough, I instantly knew I'd never put anything (helmet, shoes, kit, water, dignity) in Thom's car.
Luckily my traveling companions were willing to mortgage their preride time so that I could race, so we turned "preride hour" into "go get Colin's shit and heckle him" hour, and it all worked out.
We were seeded on last year's finish times, and two of the guys who beat me didn't show up, so BAM, I was the second starter. Aside from being almost prestigious, this meant I had no one to chase save Adam St. Germain, and since my ability to put out watts is strongly correlated to having a wheel to chase/babes to impress, I was mildly worried. If the course marshals weren't all URI coeds I was going to have a problem.
Just like last year I was running my Garmin with SUPER BIG FONT on the timer, so things were pretty straightforward, ride as hard as you can for 30 minutes, then ride even harder if you're not done. I went hauling off the start line and immediately found out that ripping smooth trails out west has little to do with railing eastern singletrack at race pace. I'd even preridden the first mile but it didn't matter, I bounced off rocks and trees and alternated between riding off the left and right sides of the trail, all the while thinking "I forgot that this was hard."
Despite my discombobulation, I saw Adam walking a rocky section ahead of me after only a minute or two, so I was like, "wow he sucks," except he had a flat, so it was more like "wow that sucks." I showed him how awesome I was by putting my foot down in a mud puddle as I passed and then set off as the leader on the course.
From there on out I just drilled it how only nerd with clear lenses can.
Predictably I wanted the race to be over well before my timer even said 10 minutes on it, and I fell into a nice yo-yo of effort:
1) Look at timer. Think about how you only have 20 minutes left.
2) Hammer wicked hard for like, five minutes.
3) Look at timer. Realize you still have 19 minutes left.
4) Ride slower for a while.
5) Goto 1.
Finally 30 minutes had passed and I wasn't at the finish line, so I guess I hadn't broken the course record (29:39), but I was on the uphill railroad bed that you finish on so it was probably time to go totally anaerobic, plus there might be some babes at the finish line. So I clicked into a gear that was way too big and thrashed the bike around until I crossed the line at 30:54.
This was the leading time for all of three minutes until TP&HASS blew it away with a 30:05, and his time only stood for a bit over a minute until Matt Green won our category with a 29:40 or so.
Still though, 3rd Expert 19-29, that's pretty good, right? And I did take 28 seconds off last year's time. My ego was officially on the upswing, right until the 40+ category started rolling through, half the field was in National Champion's jerseys (Hines, Bold, I bet Curley has one too) and my time got slaughtered. I couldn't even keep track of how smoked I was by the end, at least six and probably more of them beat me, most of all Johnny Bold who won the damn thing with a 28:47.
It should be noted that Matt tricked me into attacking him until I bonked and cramped the day before, so there's the obligatory excuse for the weekend.
I can't really complain about being 1.5% faster than last year, and the fact that the 40+ MTB field owns me isn't really news, so maybe the whole excuse thing is unnecessary. Maybe I should have saved that one for Hopbrook.
Linnea repeated as the Queen of Burlingame, which wasn't terribly surprising given that she only had one competitor for the throne. What was surprising was that she took 3.5 minutes off her time from last year, beat most of the sport men, and set the course record-- so I guess the whole riding-instead-of-skiing thing is working out, along with the new bike.
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