Had I not put my money down a few days earlier I probably would have spent the day at home on the couch in front of the fire. Had I done that I would have missed out on what will most definitely become the fall classic of southern Ontario. I had low expectations for results based on how I felt on Saturday, actually all week I've still had traces of that evil cold that beat me down the previous weekend. After doing some team duties of moving stuff I made my way to Copeland for a test ride of the newly rebuilt hard tail. The Blue XC has returned to it's roots armed with a drivetrain, I don't think it was enjoying being a gear less wonder. During the test ride I started to feel like crap, when your sweating in plus 3 temperature with little effort you know it's not a great thing. To the couch I went and spent the rest of the afternoon.
On comes Sunday morning, look out the window. It's cold and cloudy with rain easily hovering in the background. HMMM do I really want to?? I was feeling better but when you're sitting beside a warm fire with a cup of coffee you always feel better. Against better judgement and the thought of wasting an entry fee I mounted the bike to the car and headed south with the heat and heated seats on max and the outside temperature on the car turned off. Ignorance is bliss. How cold was it? Lets just saw that the wind chill factor had me adding air to the Blue's shock once I got there. A little this and that, some socializing and a weak warm up that seemed to numb the hands more than warm the body before rolling into the swarm already filling the start coral.
Mid pack starting is always a scary thing in a group this large. The mix of cross bikes and mountain bikes were pretty equal, Add in a dash of over energetic racers that attacked off the front less than 30 seconds into the race thinking the finish line was at the top of the first hill. I had a young kid ask if he could start in front of me, I said "no, you should chill there are 20 guys here that are crazy fast, it will sort itself shortly" Less than a minute into the race that kid blasted past me along with a few others on cross bikes making smart ass comments to some of the mountain bikers. Karma almost got one as he t-boned himself in a high speed wobble that he barley saved. Comments were made as that pack of mountain bikers road past. Yes this all happened within the first 5 minutes.
Not preriding the course left me hitting the single track back about 30th, had I known I would have pinned it a bit more to get in front of those over excited cross bike riders. Instead I slowly worked my way through them moving up slowly. I was still feeling a bit off so kept my attacks to a controlled approach, if they swung wide, over braked etc I just rolled past. To say that I was happy I chose the hardtail would be an understatement. The trails were fun. Once out of them I'd moved up pretty quickly, remember the kid that wanted to start in front. Ya I caught him sounding like his lungs were going to explode on a climb, I rode past him and quickly commented "shouldn't had started so hard" and rode away from him. Youth.
Out on the road the challenge began, locked out the shock got as low as possible and did what I could to keep pace with the cross bikes, I battled with a couple gaining then losing then regaining ground on them depending on the road or trail. The body was still far from impressed with what I was doing and asking off it, I kept things at that 90%of normal race pace mark hoping to just hold on. Then came the 5 k to go sign. I was in a pack of 5 and yes on the road they were on cross bikes. I didn't play dirty and just tuck in, I put my time in at the front. The pace was high and any chance that the road became favourable to me,gravel bumpy etc I would ramp up the pace a little. The 1km to go sign shows up, it's down to 2 other cross bikes. I'm crossing my fingers that there was a chunk of singletrack in the mix, I didn't want to sprint. I wasn't that luck and it was one other rider and myself sprinting to the line. Victory for another mountain biker.
Ended up 11th overall and first in the middle aged division. Not bad for feeling crappy and sore with no real intensity in my fitness supply right now. Seems that most of the top 15 were on mountain bikes, After the race I realized how much I enjoyed the shorter events, there was more time for socializing, eating, drinking, etc. The boys from Chico Racing put on yet another great race and I even got a hug from Sean Ruppel on the podium. Shannon wasn't there, someone had to step up and it was Sean.
I have regained a little love to the hardtail, it has it's place and yesterday it shined. A couple days of chill, still feeling a little off but an attempt to ride with the team will happen.