This race had lots of climbing — about 120 feet of elevation gain per lap. There were some trail sections where passing would be more difficult. There was one set of triple barriers, one log across the trail, one set of steps (think Euro cross steps), and one big-arsed root I elected to run. As Terry mentioned, there were some really bumpy meadow sections. I am on the gravitationally challenged side so I wasn’t expecting a stellar performance.
I staged early and could have gotten a front row spot. Since the start went right up the long climb, I elected for a second row spot behind Team-O members Terry (kajukembo)and Ken Benderly. I didn’t want to get in the way of the guys I expected to contend for the win. My teammate Bill Goritski lined up next to me. I mentioned to him that I always get pre-race jitters and wonder what I’m doing lining up to race. I also brought up the fact that many times right in the middle of a race I feel like dropping out. Bill admitted to having some of the same thoughts. For both of us, the post race elation keeps us lining up each week.
Finally we are off and I pace myself up the climb and about half the field passes me. Then I pass most of them by the end of the second lap. There are about a half-dozen “hot spots” where I am able to make passes on riders I’m having trouble getting around. Two of them are through boggy mud. One is over the big-arsed root — lots of slowing to try to ride it while I carry lots of speed on the dismount. One is on the slippery left-turn uphill exiting the gravel road climb. I ran this section on four of the laps and was faster than most who rode it. Another is the 180 leading into the step. Lots of people rode up to the steps but I was able to pass folks by dismounting right before the turn and sprinting by them. Another good one was a flat downhill trail between two pavement sections. Most people soft pedaled it. I turned it up and cranked around a few riders there.
The fifth lap turned out to be the bell lap. I was surprised that they didn’t let us go another lap. When I went though the finish area, I heard the bell but I thought it was someone ringing a cowbell. Then coming out of one of the mud hot-spots early in the lap, I saw green on my shoulder. I thought it was junior rider Jacob Rathe because he had passed twice only to stop to attempt to deal with some problem. Anyway, I knew he was in a race with the Fred Meyer boys so I waved him by. It turned out to be a guy I had just passed. This guy then held me up though the “root” loop (lots of slippery roots) and I followed him up the climb (a mistake). I finally got around him on the trail section hot-spot and gunned it. Anyway, I only realized it was the bell lap going up the gravel hill because I heard the announcer say it was the final lap. One more lap would have been perfect.
Oh yeah, I caught my teammate Bill on the meadow section coming down off the run-up. I was right on him making the turn onto the bridge. I made a tactical mistake there. He slowed quite a bit getting onto the bridge and went outside. Instead of getting aggressive and taking the inside line (maybe push him off the bridge? — kidding) and keeping my speed, I slowed. Bill then used a junior rider to gap me through the uphill constriction. I never got back on him after that. I rolled through the finish line in perhaps 12th place (out of 90 starters).
Once again, I had what I considered a great race. It was lots of fun. I stayed aggressive until the end. I’m learning better tactics every race. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and put it all on the line for the initial sprint in the remaining races. If I blow, I blow. But if I don’t crank it on the start, I’m not going to be challenging for the top ten.
Result = 13/66