I had been training hard and felt I did a good job of tapering off my training leading up to the race. I really wanted to avoid embarrassing myself and set an ambitious goal of a mid pack finish
I woke up Sunday morning feeling great! I was well rested, hydrated and ready to race. I got there early and had a chance to meet most of the NEMBA team. I had never raced on a team before and had no idea what to expect. I can say without a doubt that it was much more fun to be a part of a team vice going solo. Having everyone there to help out and cheer you on was a pretty cool experience.
The “Sport Vet I” class had 41 racers and the start was a bit confusing. I ended up near the front of the line and started out of the gates in good shape. Things cleared up pretty quick and was not as crowded as I thought it would be leading into the first section of single-track. I figured I was in decent shape and continued to push on. I spotted fellow teammate Josh Burgel ahead of me and decided to hang on his wheel a bit. I finally passed Josh after awhile and continued on. I made steady progress for most of the first lap playing leapfrog with a few riders. The course was pretty flat and fast! I was breathing hard but my legs were holding up fine. I finished the first lap feeling good and was happy to see the NEMBA team cheering us on as we rode by.
I kept pushing on an found myself alone for a couple of miles. Ultimately I think it hurt me because I definitely slowed up to catch my breath. I settled into a comfort zone and ended up getting passed by a Riverside guy. He said he was in the 50+ class and was nice enough. Pretty fast too. I could not bear the shame of letting a Riverside rider pass me, so it was just the kick in the ass I needed to pick it up. I stayed on his wheel until we got on the final stretch of double-track. I gave it everything I had left and passed him and two more riders on the way to the finish line.
I ended up with a 17th place finish and was pretty happy with my results. Although I am encouraged by my placing, I am also humbled by how much work is ahead of me if I want to grab a podium. So, it’s back to training this week and time to figure out what race I am going to hit up next. Thinking about the Horror at Harding Hill….again. This time maybe I can finish.