This was the one EFTA race I was really looking forward to this year as I consider Willowdale home court. I live about 15 minutes away and I know the trail network very well. Last year there were 400+ riders and I knew the field would be just as big again this year. Nearly 30 riders had pre-registered for my class alone. I did poorly at the race last year but I knew this time would be different. I had the NEMBA team supporting me along with the new Trek 29er from Chelmsford Cyclery with the Kenda Slant 6’s ready to go. 🙂
The course was very similar to last year’s except in reverse. At the staging line Bill, Greg and a few of the other sport guys had me laughing my ass off joking around while we waited which really helped calm the nerves. The weather was perfect for a race, 50 degrees and no sun. Bill and I lined up at the start ready to hit the first mile of double track which was added to allow the stronger riders to hit the single track first. Unfortunately the two us got stuck staging towards the back and we had to hit the start really hard to get up close to the front. Bill did an awesome job holding my wheel while I worked up the long line of riders. We were able to enter the first single track section clean but about 1/2 way into the lap hit a long line of riders from the group that started before us. I tried to keep Bill right behind but it was a big effort passing all those riders and unfortunately I lost sight of him.
I decided to press on as I could see a number of riders ahead of me and I love chasing people down. Knowing the trail system so well was a huge advantage. While the majority of the single track is buff and fast there are places where the exposed wet roots made things pretty dangerous. I saw a number of people crash or spin out on the slippery stuff. I ran the slant 6’s at 28PSI, the lowest I dared to avoid a flat and they gripped the trail great. There was a lot of narrow single track on this course which made passing a little difficult. I had one guy be difficult for a few minutes but as I knew we were approaching a short section of double track soon so I decided to just wait it out.
After that I was pretty much by myself until half way into the second lap when I ran into my friend Kathy Evans. As expected she was out front of the expert women kicking ass. I conversed with her for a minute while recovering and was then on my. I managed to catch a strong junior rider with about 3 miles to go and decided to just hold his wheel to the finish. I was beginning to cramp up a bit and he was moving through traffic well. Sprinted as hard as I could to the finish line then met up with the expert team members who had finished in front of me. I managed to take 2nd in my age group out of 34 and I think 8th in Sport overall out of 110. I wish my time had been a little more competitive at the expert level but I’ll keep working.
Post race the team had the grill and plenty of beer on hand for some much deserved post ride celebrating. Congratulations to everyone on the team, it was a fantastic effort!
The Toro Loco Team had about 500 pictures on their facebook page. I grabbed all the ones with NEMBA team members in them. Hopefully they don’t mind.