Winter Cross at the Washougal Motocross Park was my last race of the season — a bittersweet proposition. It will be nice to be able to go for bike rides without worrying about being ready for race day. But I’ll miss the competition, routine, and companionship that race day brings. The weather was cool and partly sunny but the course retained some mud from the soaking the week previous. Perfect for the final race.

The promoters used this venue previously in the year for Nincrossi and the course was a climbers dream — it was set on the side of a hill where the moto dudes warm up. For this installment, they used a bunch of access roads in and around the motocross courses and linked them up with some grass and small bits of the motocross course. There was a short run up and a single barrier for two dismounts per lap. Otherwise the climbs were short and there were plenty of tricky corners. I understand that things were pretty slippery early in the day but some stuff had dried out and lines formed by my end of the day start.

The single speed field had a decent turnout for a non-Crusade race. Twenty eight of us lined up and some of the fast dudes were gunning for the series overall. I was hoping to beat Scott Barker with whom I was tied for series points. I lost that race within the first half lap where Scott proved far superior through the technical stuff. And the hills weren’t quite long enough for me to be able to use that advantage over him.

Instead, I ended up racing Martin Baker from start to finish. Martin was faster in the technical stuff too but I was able to stay close enough to pass him on other parts of the course. That made him pass me through the tech and kept us closer together. Unfortunately, just past the midway point, he got a decent gap and I could do no better than get near him on the places I was faster. I made a big effort on the final lap and was about 2 seconds behind him at the finish. Still, Martin is a pretty strong masters rider so it was cool staying with him all race. I did have the advantage of having raced SS all season (and I’ve been riding SS on the road too).

The course was outstanding and lots of fun. I pulled off an 11th which wasn’t bad given the competition. I have a grocery list of things to work on for next season and one of them is getting faster though the tech sections. So I want to hit the trails once a week through the winter so I can get comfortable riding in slippery conditions.

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