An awesome day! The race was some hard, crazy fun, with twisting, turning, passing, and some sweet fast sections to get the throttle wide open. Good times hanging out in the NEMBA tent, swapping race stories, talking shop, hearing about everyone’s training tips, and generally soaking up what I can from folks who have been riding much longer than I have.
Of course I’d been anxious and thinking about this race for weeks, I have yet to acquire the cool heads of the other green jerseys taking shade in the NEMBA tent on Sunday. Pre-ride was Dan (Voss), Josh, Karina and I snaking around the final few miles of the course to get a measure of the tight single-track. It sure was tight and twisty, with some nice berms and good flow sprinkled in.
Race staging was packed, easily over 100 riders heading off on the 9:30am whistle. Pretty soon it was down to the Novice Vet I, and I was off. I hooked onto the top 1/3 of the group as we settled onto the fire-trail. Next I knew I’m slamming into a wad of bodies piled up at the first bridge crossing, I jump off, and run around the mess and get started again. There are three guys in front of me from my race at this stage. We get through the first climb, and I’ve passed all three, along with a throng of other racers snagged on the hill.
The next few miles are pretty much a blur of passing and waiting, passing and waiting. The trail was packed solid with riders, with lines snaking back 10+ bodies deep. I use my best NEMBA passing manners, and manage to put as many bodies as I can between me and any pursuers.
Then somewhere in all that twisty single-track, I manage to connect my shoulder with tree. Not a skinny little one that bends, one that stopped me dead and put me on my butt. After that I’m rattled, and have a wad of leaves in my rear cassette leaving me a few gears short. I get in a few more tumbles washing out too wide on loose corners, but I eventually pull it back together, clear my gears, and find myself within a pack again. Some guy passes me and I’m calling out asking what race he’s in- he doesn’t respond. Should I chase him? I tried to hang on his wheel, but he had me beat through the twisty stuff and I lose sight of him. He was in my race, and ended up first place.
Just before we break out onto the wide open final stretch, I spot a NEMBA jersey and say hi to Eric as I pass. He’s toughing it out on his second lap of Sport Junior, I’m hypoxic and not even through one lap! Nice work on the upgrade to Sport Eric! I’m on the home stretch, cranking down on the pedals, wave to Carl cheering on from the side, and cross. Phew. (Thanks for the cheering Carl!)
We get a spot at the finish line to cheer on the NEMBA sport crew coming in- Jason wizzes by in a blur, then we hear a crunching of gears, gnashing of teeth as Josh Burgel rounds the final corner. He’s laying down the power to catch the guy in front of him, his bike is twisting and groaning, and within 20feet of the finish, his bike disintegrates into a mess of gears, chain, Gu goop, blood and sweat. He places mid-pack after a grueling first ride in Sport after hitching up from Cat 3. Nice work Josh! (Deliberations on the fate of the offending bike continue)
Podium time and Dan is up for his first place medal Cat 3 Vet II, with a blistering lap time of 41.40 – undeniable dominance Dan- Congrats on second win of the season! I snag second in Cat 3 Vet I and my first ever medal! Sport is within sight!