Like the name of this blog, I have spent the entire year chasing the podium and while I have failed 100% of the time to get up on the box, 75% of the time I finished up just below the podium, missing it by one place and at Iron Hill, by 10 seconds. To make matters worse (or perhaps to fuel the training fire more), I was the podium presenter at two of these events. It was bitter sweet to be standing behind the podium as the top three in my class stood on the podium.
As I was leaving my house, the skys opened and rain began to pour. YES! I love the days with rough conditions as I think it brings out the true mountain bike racer. Muddy courses require fitness, bike handling skills, and a good mindset. Technical courses like Iron Hill even more so.
Arrived on site and helped the promotors with registration. They decided to take a different route with the timing chips and I think the Sport lines may have been a little longer than those at Granogue. The timing guy is new this year and we are all learning. Here is a message to other promotors using the time. Split up your chips by beginner, sport, and expert so that you do not have to sort through hundreds of chips at a time.
Mark Sanford and I went out on a little pre-ride to scout out tissue hill and slime hill. Tissue hill went straight up the hill this year (down by the parking lot) and the angles were a little different. On to slime hill to see if it would be ridable. It was not, but we talked about where to run up (left or right). Left was King here. We got to see some 8 year old boy become totally frustrated here, falling down over and over again. He started to cry a little bit, then Mark picked his bike up and got him up the hill. It was a very nice move on Mark's part as the boy stopped crying and started racing his bike again.
The race start was not too fast and furious. I think all of us in Vet 1 are content with a cival starting pace, at least everywhere except Fair Hill and I can thank myself for that start. Chris Arterburn was leading us once we got into the woods, followed by Damon, Paul, Me, and Mark Sanford. Poor Chris went down on the first wooden bridge and his wreck was not bad, but he was on the right side of the bridge and his bike was on the left, so he had to wait to get back to his bike. Order was now Damon, Paul, Me, Mark. Paul was the next to go down, so order was Damon, me, Mark, Paul recovered and came around to make it Damon, Paul, Me, Mark. I let Mark by and the four of us just pulled away from everyone else. I fell off the pace, but passed Mark on Boneshaker as he crashed hard and was pretty shaken.
I remained in third from Boneshaker until almost the end of the race. Riding along, passing lots of folks from other classes, feeling the build-up in my legs, but feeling pretty fresh the entire time and attacking sections of the course. I was a little surprised at how easy it felt, but my legs were telling me we were putting out some efforts.
(MORE TO COME)