Well it was not on the schedule, it was not planned, I was not ready to do it but I signed up anyways. The day before I ran into Glen and he recommended that single speed would probably not be a good option. Yep, by the end of the race i was happy to be on my full.
Still having camera upload issues so be patient. Did the normal prerace thing with food, coffee music etc getting into my head. Of course looking out side and seeing the layer of thick frost out he car was not helping my vibe. Added a few more clothes to the gear bag and headed to Hardwood. I love races that are only 15 minutes from home.
The concept of the race is to ride each one of the set weekly race courses in a specific order. The solo's would go in one order, teams in another. This helped prevent overlapping and you also knew who was in front of you. Me, not totally thinking wrote the order on the backside of the plate not realizing that it was printed at the top on the front of the plate. Ya not one of my brighter moments.
Rolled up to the transition area for the pre race meeting. I think this was the first one I've been to in about 5 years. This was different, I actually needed to know what was going on. Strategically placed my bottles on the edge of the trail. Wasn't sure what I would need or go through so one on the bike, one in the jersey and 2 ready.
Rolled up to the line and was nicely given a spot on the front row. Thanks Tom and Winston. The smack talk started no less than 10 seconds later. Of course I was a little concerned about the legs, it's off season they even have hair on them which means they are weak! Just hoped not to weak. We were off. Big group of 130 plus heading up the climb that I used to hate at the Wednesday night weekly races many years ago. Yep still hurts the same going up the snow fence. It didn't take long for the packs to split. Mid way through the first course loop it was down to a pack of 7. Then I crashed. Regained myself and caught back up. Crash number one on something I didn't see. Back in the pack it didn't take long for someone to drop off and we were down to 6. I already knew I was not going to be the overall leader today.
By the end of the first stage there was a couple gaps. I ended up with JD. Yep that kid from Hot August Nights. Ok lets work together. This kid is still fast but needs someone to control him a little. The first few climbs I kept saying to him, Sit down stop hammering were only 30 minutes in. I was concerned that the kid wouldn't finish. We settled into a good pace with me leading. Came through the transition seeing 4th in front of us. We kept it steady going out on Radical, yes the trails name is Radical. I haven't ridden this trail in years, I forgot that yes it is Radical.
I'm a pretty strong technical rider but today I don't know if it was the lack of fitness, lack of training, lack of focus or lack of some really bad drugs but I hit some many things. My bars are set up for long races and in some places barely got through the trees, I got stalled up in roots so many times I felt completely weak and then there was the real crash. Big rock, ok medium size rock with a drop of to the left. Well I hesitated and you know the saying hesitation is the mother of all F ups. Over the bars I went, tuck and roll, tuck and roll. JD got a good laugh, I shook my head a few times and we were off. This was crash I don't know how many. Came through the transition laughing as we headed out for a lap of Crank'd. Back in the grove.
We had kept 4th in site most of the time but with the crashes and stalls, yes JD had the odd problem also we lost a little ground to the point he was out of sight. We just kept our pace in the next section. There was a lot more flow, I kept the pace as high as I could. The guys at Hardwood did a great job clearing the leafs off the trails but Mother Nature did make it hard with some newly dropped sections that did make it interesting at times.
Heading out for Gnarly we were pretty certain by the mid way point that we were not going to catch 4th and we had a huge lead on 7th. I put out the question. Do you want to sprint this out? JD answered pretty quick, NOPE!!! Alright then we'll cross the line together at the end. He liked the idea. Now at one point I did see a rider ahead of us but I didn't let JD know this in case he went way to hard and blew up. I brought the pace up a little. More on that mystery rider shortly. We headed out on the last section which was called Fun.
Yep, it was fun. The pace was still fairly high but we started talking about his training for next year and who is going to be coaching him etc. Sounds like he will have the right people watching him. We cruised in to the finish line and got off the bikes about 20 feet from the line. It was well planned and we crossed with the exact same time for a tie of 5th place. JD was second in his division and I won mine. Or so I thought.
About half an hour later I had someone come up and ask if I had a major mechanical on the trail. Nope, well it shows that you are third in the division and I'm second and I never passed you. Well of course the flags went up. Some talking with the timing guys and a couple racers and it we found out that 2 racers in my division got a little lost and missed a section of Gnarly. Roughly 10 minutes of it putting them in 1st and 2nd in our division. After a little bit of work things were changed. It was great that this guy came up, he said that he wouldn't have gone up on the podium because he knew something was not right. We chatted for a bit, nice guy who unfortunately got bumped down the position. Looks like his times would have had him in the top 10 for sure.
Sat back in the sun with the crew and waited for the awards. Beer would have made it better. So now I am officially done racing for 2009 and I'm going to do everything I can to not ride my bike for 2 full weeks. Do you know how hard this will be. I'm thinking of sabotaging them all with major repairs so I can't do it. Do you have a bike I can borrow.