There I stood, watching the waning seconds of the 1st half of the JV football game on Friday night. The skies looked threatening but nothing had materialized yet. And then, kissed by Poseidon, I started to feel the pitter patter of rain. Forcasted as the first big storm of the season, I feared that Sunday's race might be wet. Well, no need to fear. It wasn't wet, it was a muddy, sloppy mess, ala the 2009 24hour race.
Howard Park in Ione and the folks at BicylingEvents, put together a great course for all of us crazies to go out there and punish ourselves. The courses Start/Finish area was on a large DG horse track that was suitably wet and sloppy. From this opening straight-away, riders did a sharp 180 right hander onto an off-camber mud slop for about 30 yards and then dumped down onto some grass athletic fields. This first entry onto grass was short lived as we were sent back to a very muddy off-camber climbing right hander, that was actually one of my favorite moves on the course. From there it was wet grass, mud, twists and turns for a bit. This section dumbed out on the gantlet. A narrow, again off-cambered, muddy sluice box of a straightaway, punctuated by an equally muddy and nasty short up and down at the end. From there, racers had a bit of a break on some hard packed park ground, you just had to look out for "the tree" that had grown just so as to separate your shoulder if you took the turn wrong. Once again, back onto the grass for a long straight with a slick, muddy hill at the end. Up the hill along the fence line, back down and fight the head wind on the road section. Sharp right and over the whoop (remember this section, it will be revisited). Some fast, dirt road twists, taking racers back to the park area. Off the bike up the stairs and remount for the grassy technical section. Lots of hard turns, braking and then stomping on it out of the corner...but don't stomp too hard because it is wet and nasty. On to the bark, over the only barriers on the course, and back onto the horse track. ONE...let's go do it again.
At the whistle I immeditatly thought, "Oh @#$%, what am I doing in this race!?!?!" But then things started to come together again, a few Open A's slowed and came back to us, the 35+ group spread out to the contenders and non-contenders, the 45+ fasties went by and we were in a race.
I could see Cap'n up front for a fair bit, was actually very pleased to keep him in my sights much longer than I did at Kirkwood. Bambi was right in front of me and gave me a good carrot to chase. Lap one indicated that the legs would be tested all day as the slog through the mud was unavoidable. During the second lap, Cappy was still visible up front, and the FT3 infighting began to take shape. Bambi had burned it a little hot on the first lap and suffered on lap 2, I came by him and we came into the stairs together. Bambi's day almost ended there as cleats and wet cement gave him a bit of a scare. We traded lead a few times and then Bambi put in a bit of recovery move and got a few seconds on me. We both started to slowly come through some fading A's and 35+ers. About the same time, Cap'n's fire caught and off he went, bridging up to a group in front of him and the gunning it for an impressive pass. He was unable to shed a single Team Rev rider who pasted himself on the rear wheel of Cap'n. Moving back to the action in the back part of the race, I was starting to move back on to Bambi, closing the gap, setting up for a FT3 Duel! Coming up over the whoop, mentioned above, I inadvertently aired it out and came down with a thud, knocking my wind out. That ensured the breakage of the elastic with Bambi and off he went. Cap'n, sensing a distrubance in the force, dropped the hammer and closed the door on the "gentleman" racer behind him, who never abused his place on Cap'n's wheel but thankfully took to pull into the finish. Cap'n stayed on the lead lap the entire race, while Bambi and I were treated to see the lead rider come past, well in front of everyone else, and looking pretty damn fresh for the slog that was.
Booker and B braved the element to come out and cheer us on. B was looking for a car shuttle post race to get a ride in himself. Unfortunately, I think he ran into three psyched but utterly drained racers, not to mention the weather had made us all wet and cold. Sorry B, we owe you one. We loaded in the auto and headed home, content and happy with the results and ready for the next race!
Nov 6th in Folsom
Nov 7th in Bay Area (Free for Vets)
I am a bit toasted and sore today, but very happy for the day of real CX racing.
Until we ride