Ah, late March, that beautiful time of year when it's 40, rained all week, and getting up at 5:45 to drive almost 2 hours each way to do a 30 minute race seems like great idea.
I love the King of Burlingame TT, but I can never tell if I love it only because it's the first race of the year and it's only 30 minutes long. You know what you don't need base miles for? 30 minute TTs. You know what I don't do too much of? Base miles.
Inconsistent blogger and consistent teammate Kevin weaseled his way into the carpool and did his best to bring it down in flames by being woken by his own doorbell at 6:15 AM. Shockingly, he was not sleeping in a chamois, nor had he packed anything the night before, so we burned almost an entire Burlingame TT of time while he figured out which way was up. Finally we got on the highway, got the Fit up to 75 (no small feat with bikes on the roof) and blitzed south.
As usual it was cold and wet, so I wasn't too sad about missing valuable preride time. I find 30 minute efforts are easier when you use the first half as a warmup, and with it being the first race of the year there's never a temptation to do something dumb, like, say, take it out too hard...
I got the #1 seed for group 2 because I was the fastest returning sub-40-year old. This gave me a ghost rider at 30 seconds and Kevin "Golden Boy" Hines a minute ahead of me, at the back of the 40+ field. In other words, I wasn't gonna catch anyone for quite a while. Bad for blogging, but good for racing.
As is traditional with the first wet race of the year I was running dry tires, a Python front and XR1 rear. There was a big mud puddle three pedal strokes into the race, and my Python had no intention of hooking up with it, so I almost ended up on my face with the entire 19-39 field watching. Almost.
The course was significantly wetter this year, and it turns out you forget the important lines when you ride a trail once every 12 months. I alternated between thinking, "wow, my feet are cold," "wow, this really hurts," and "wow, I need to look down the friggin' trail before I ride off it again."
Between the cold feet and slow(er) mud, I felt like I was riding terribly. The negative self-talk got started, and I remember thinking "you should blog about how 'you know you're having a bad race when you decide you need to take a rest week during the race.'"
Oddly enough, my watch was suggesting that maybe this wasn't going as badly as it felt. In fact, maybe it's that if you feel good during a 30 minute TT, it's going badly. Once I started to infiltrate the back of the 40+ starters morale improved, except when I was off the bike on sections I distinctly remember riding last year. And of course, Kevin Hines was nowhere to be seen, because he was busy bagging the overall win by nearly a minute.
In the end I crossed the line in 31:00, only 6 seconds slower than last year. I couldn't believe my watch. With the course running considerably slower than 2009, that end up being good enough for 4th overall, and winning the 19-39 Expert category by 2 seconds over Josh Wilcox. Secret IBC elite team member Dan Barry came in 3rd at 31:13, and Kevin "Gas Money" Sweeney snagged 4th at 31:17.
We were overshadowed as usual by the 40+ field, with Hines/Bold/Petro taking the top 3 overall, and not one of them being under 45. At this point I'm starting to think it's possible my career will peak before theirs does.
I wasn't even the biggest deal in my own car, because Linnea defended her QoB crown and took the women's overall for the third year running. I sulked until she spent some of her winnings to buy me Tim Horton's.
Post race, Rob Stine took us all to Arcadia and dragged us through the most impossible rock gardens known to man, while making it look easy on a rigid singlespeed. After 2 hours and 3 trips over the bars, I headed home a happy and broken man.
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