Single Speed Open, geared 32x18 as it seems most of us were.
(There are some awesome pics of this race on sponsor Riverside Racing's Facebook page, as well as pro pics from Laura Kozlowski, including this great one of me and Matt Aumiller saying hi before the race.)
So, my goal going in was top 5. Arnold Roest was nice enough to introduce himself before the race, which was good because that’s who I wanted to try to mark as I suspect he’s a bit faster than me. Last year’s winner Ryan Littlefield was also in the field, but I wouldn’t know who he was until a bit later in the race…(cue the suspenseful music). Some other fast guys there too -- talked to Matt Aumiller at the start line, I recognized NEMBA racer Mark Tucker too, as well as some guys quite a bit younger than me in our open field.
Off we went,
I couldn’t get clipped in,
too many people passed me,
put too much effort into trying to get to the front group,
but got there eventually and settled in for a bit to catch my breath.
So in other words, it was my usual start. Better than last week's almost reverse holeshot start, but still not good.
So a few minutes in I was in 5th behind Arnold when he lost traction and went down in a rooty turn. I heard his rear tire let out a burp. With a roaring pace going, I figured he might have trouble airing up and then catching back on. I guess a later wrong turn really did him in, though he still finished top half.
So in 4th and a few minutes later I started feeling like I could go a bit faster than the pace so I went by Matt and Curtis Lavoie, but then Curtis stuck like a fruit strip wrapper (parent simile). And it didn’t seem like the pace was taxing him much. AHH! Then we hit the traffic of two pro women and I got lucky with a wide uphill pass, but then it turned twisty again and Curtis couldn't easily get by. So he ended up a few seconds back and I pushed for a bit to try to unstick him and it worked.
So firmly in 2nd, I started hunting and eventually saw leader Ryan through the woods. As we went on, I would slowly gain on him in the singletrack, but he had an acceleration on the fire roads that would instantly put me a few more seconds down.
On both laps I got my closest to him on the one hard climb at mile 6. First lap I got on his rear wheel by the top, but then he dropped me on the flats leading to the start/finish. I saw him in front of me for most of lap 2, and pushed really hard to reel him in.
I figured if I had any hope of beating him, it would be to pass him before or at the mile 6 hill and then bury myself through the finish to try to hold on. And I did close the gap going into the hill (thanks partly to drafting pro winner Crystal Anthony), but then I muffed the hill. I had to get off and push, he didn’t, game over.
I raced the best I could I think, just lost to a stronger guy. Ryan is super nice and I think he enjoyed getting pushed as much as I enjoyed his being the carrot.
|Always a bridesmaid (my fourth 2nd place finish in a row).|
So, in conclusion, Weeping Willow was awesome. My time was 1:21.25, which isn’t a very long time for a mt bike race, BUT, if you spend the whole time redlined it is really hard. My Sea Sports teammate Tim did awesome too with a 7th (of 16) in his first Expert field finish.
I’m not that great with big crowds and was kind of dreading what I knew would be a sell-out event. But it certainly didn’t seem like there was a ton of people there. Parking was easy, vendors spread out, enough porta-potties. Even though there were a lot of racers on the course at the same time, besides the guys in my field, I think I only passed the pro women and one guy. So it seems like the way they staggered us was pretty perfect.
Onto the Glocester Grind! Thanks for reading.
(Ok, I can't go a blog post without sharing a pic of my kids)
|Children of the children of the 70's. At Ice Cream Smuggler, Dennis MA.|