Hopbrook Dam Race Report

Hey!  Remember when I used to blog?  Heck, remember when we used to blog?  Yeah, those were the days.  But I figure if Ryan Kelly is going to keep up appearances then I should as well.

For the first time EVER I took this winter off from ski racing (mainly cuz the Birkie kicked my ass, so I took my ball and went home), and thus there was NOTHING TO BLOG ABOUT.  Literally nothing, unless you count mediocre tele skiing.

In DEFINITELY RELATED news I somehow managed to get excited for Hopbrook for like the fifth year in a row, even those Hopbrook is a weak course that never changes and only gets away with this mediocrity due to its early April start date.  Dude, bikes!

No less than THIRTY other "Pro/1" (mostly 1) dudes agreed with my level of stoke, and thus we managed to have a rare mountain bike race start with FOUR rows of guys in it.  Obviously I was in the fourth row, because mountain bike races are long and going hard early is a good way to go really slow late.

As you might imagine this led to some trackstanding on the first singletrack climb, where I dropped fourteen minutes to Justin Lindine.  After that I rode at exactly his pace, so obviously if I had just lined up front row I'd have won.

Back in reality, though, I hung out in second-to-last place for a bit and then when we hit the pavement it was like CROSS RACE HARD because no one, not even me, wants to be in second to last place.  Also, it was windy and my major talent seems to be recognizing opportunities to hide from the wind behind stronger people.  So yeah!  Random sprinting.  So much for chilling out.

Of course it takes more than random sprinting to move out of the "bottom quarter" zone of the Pro/1 race, but that's still a lot better than last year where I was in the "getting caught by the 19-29 age group" zone within a lap.  Thus, following people around was pretty much all I wanted to manage, especially when those people are Kevin, and they botched the first rock garden.  OH YEAH.  What's up Sweeney!  He quickly fell in behind me and blamed a mechanical issue, which I why he has a pro license and I don't.

I spent the rest of the first lap noticing that they had helpfully added some gravel on the double-track to make it smoother and that they took out a short singletrack section, which set me up perfectly for a narrative about how it was a lame course with too much pedaling.

At the end of the lap I found out that the dude I was riding with was Chris Peck (thanks, full-name-cheering-spectator) which confused me, because that's a name I know from back in the day cx racing, and no one who was legitimately good when I was a cat 4 could ever be my peer now, right?

Of course "peer" isn't really the right word for it, because every time there was a pedaling section I thought to myself "gosh he's energetic" as he pulled away from me.

Meanwhile my strategy of riding the four technical spots on the course without brakes somehow canceled out the wattage disparity and we kept ending up back together.

After a while I made a joke to him about how "he'd surely agree the course needed less pedaling," which I guess was only clever in my head.  This was with about one lap to go, and he apparently decided that dudes who make jokes in bike races are the kind of dudes you should make a plan to drop like a rock.

Sooooo suddenly instead of riding away on the pedaling parts he hung out behind me while I wondered what was going on and why it was so windy.  Unfortunately, I could see Noah Tautfest up the trail and thus decided that riding "hard"  (in the second hour, "hard" should always be in quotes) would be a guaranteed place gained, instead of playing cat-n-mouse with Chris which would probably be zero places gained.

As predicted, after ten minutes of happily "drafting" me Chris WATTAGED the big climb so hard that he eventually beat my by a minute.  Okay then.  No jokes next time!

I did manage to catch a fading Noah, and conceal my own imminent fading with a half-hearted attack. When the wheels really did start coming off about five minutes later, I had at least had enough of a gap on him that I could limp in for... um... eighteenth?

That is actually the exact same place as last year's Hopbrook, but this time there were an extra TEN starters, which is like a billion-percent increase in "dudes beat."  Therefore it was a bike racing success* and the proper reaction was to go home, get drunk on one beer, and eat everything in the house.  So I did.

* note:  in the event of bike racing failure, go home, get drunk on one beer and eat everything in the house.


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