You know what? I should just rename this the "Racing Bikes with Kevin Sweeney" blog and be done with it. That's all I do here any more, I just put a number on and ride laps with K-Sweet. You would think we were teammates from the way we seem to end up riding a time trial together each week -- but of course, we'd have to have an actual team for that to be true. So I guess that just makes him my friend, or even more accurately, "guy whose air compressor I use."
So yeah, despite a 26-rider elite field at the Weeping Willow I still managed to spend most of my race riding with Kevin.
The race course was an 11-mile lap of pure awesomeness, fast zero-recovery singletrack with a few punchy climbs and a hundred logs to jump over, and a hundred trees to rip your shorts open on. At only 45 minutes from Boston, everybody showed up, and hopefully most of them had enough fun to consider driving a little further next time. But probably not. If there's anything Ice Weasels has taught me, it's that hosting your race within an hour's drive of over a million people helps turnout more than anything else you could do as a promoter. But that won't stop of week of "OMG, is mountain biking back?!" comments on the internet. Yes, I am a curmudgeon.
As is becoming the norm I passed up a chance at staging near the front to spend some bonus time in the port-a-potty. With 2.5 hours to race I wasn't really worried about "making the front group," anyway.
Due to a last row start I ended up a long way back in the singletrack conga line, and eventually it broke up into some groups, and I was like, hey, where'd the top 10 go? But it was ok, because Kevin was right in front of me.
We hit a doubletrack section that ended up being a solid five minutes long. Kevin took off like his chamois was on a fire, and I decided I didn't want to pedal anywhere near that hard. Luckily there were a bunch of other guys around, Will, Ricky, and a few more. So I just drafted them.
After a while I realized I wasn't pedaling all that much and I couldn't see Kevin up the trail anymore, so I needed to rectify that, if only for the theme of this blog entry. I attacked on the double track and gapped off the singlespeeders, then just rode fast on the singletrack until Kevin was back safely in front of me.
We tooled around for a while with Colin from Wheelworks (another Colin?! unpossible) just ahead, and I started heckling Kevin for not closing the gap. He did not respond favorably to this, so I asked if I could pass, to which he smugly said "no."
Bastard. So I took a cheater line, cut him off, sprinted up the trail, took an even worse line, cut off Colin, forcing all 3 of us off our bikes, and ran up a hill in an adrenaline-fueled tizzy while apologizing profusely for my riding style. Ta-da!
Unfortunately, a few minutes of being able to ride as hard as I wanted made me tired, like, "oh crap, this is only lap one" tired. So Kevin caught back up, and passed me, but it was ok because all I wanted to do was hang out with him anyway.
The other Colin was gone, so now it was just the two of us. This keeps happening. I think he likes me.
We got to the long doubletrack again, Kevin took off again, and I took a much more long-term view of the situation and decided to eat an entire Clif Bar. I didn't realize that in a race situation, a Clif Bar isn't actually edible, it's just a little varnished turd of calories that you can chew indefinitely without ever being able to swallow. My troubles let Kevin get out of sight once more.
Luckily his bike and/or brain had not been set up correctly to steer that morning, so once we were back to the singletrack I caught him pretty quickly, and started hassling him again about letting me go first so we could go faster. This culminated in a truly horrible exchange, when he was about 10 seconds up the trail:
*Kevin slips on a root and falls over*
Me: SWEENEY WHAT ARE YOU DOOOOOOOING
12-year old Novice girl who is between us, and now on the verge of tears: I'm trying to get out of your way! Sorry!!
Me: I'm a bad person.
So I had to spend some time convincing a young girl I wasn't screaming at her, that's always fun. When I got over my shame, I resumed talking trash to Kevin. This time he started with some psychological warfare about how he was fine racing for 10th and didn't care about going faster, which almost made sense, because I was also fine racing for 10th.
But wait, even if we have no chance of catching 9th, we're still racing each other. Dude, lemme by.
Of course as soon as I'm in front Kevin is mysteriously able to ride a lot faster.
This time, though, I wasn't riding unsustainably fast, plus there was "only" an hour left to race, so I was able to keep the pressure on and eventually I couldn't hear him trashing around behind me. Sorry Kevin. I think it's time we see other people.
Other people turned out to be John Peterson, whom I caught solely because he was riding a singlespeed. We hung out for a while, lapping sport riders and talking about entry fees, until I realized that he was just a rebound from my relationship with Kevin, and I needed to spend some time alone. So I rode the last half hour solo, just me, my cramps, and lots of watch-checking.
I started to appreciate the insanity of EFTA's fill-the-course-with-sports race schedule, because you really can't feel too bad for yourself when you're passing that many riders. And, when it's all singletrack, there's not much you can do sometimes but take a deep breath, go to your happy place, and wait for an opportunity to get through. So I did.
Thanks to finding my power animal, and three guys ahead of me breaking their bikes, I somehow cross the line in 6th. Is that another best race ever? It could be. Let's not think about this too much.
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