Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Barriers, a barn and a sand pit.

Saturday we raced at Fair Hill - another race put on by the esteemed DCCoD gang.  It was a MAC race, which for me meant a stacked field of 3/4 women, if not a very big one.  But all the fast Cat 3's were there, ready and willing to beat up on us lowly Cat 4's.  This was our first dry weekend in a while, so it would be a good test for where my legs are.

I loved this course, actually.  A few rolling hills, some tight off camber turns, two sets of barriers (!!! yay! I like barriers!! except when I crash into one during warmups, oops!), a concert barrier with a fence next to it, a horse barn to snake through (seriously!), and oh yeah, some sand.  Not just a little bit of sand.  Nice, loose, beautiful footing for horses jumping - you know, the kind that is soft when a 1200 pound animal is landing in it on tiny little hooves.  It's also the kind that's really soft when 140lb bike racers try to pedal through it on tires barely over an inch wide.  Especially when we try to make the turns that FatMarc laid out for us.  Wow.  In pre-ride laps, I learned two things - there were no good lines but I could ride the whole sand section.  But it might be faster to run.  This became a moot point during the race as someone crashed in front of me on all but the last lap on our way in and again on the next turn, so I was off my bike a few extra times. 

With a race on Sunday and a light training load last week, I decided to go a bit off my normal pace and use Saturday as a fun opener.  The easiest way for me to do this is to force myself to go a bit slower off the start.  After a call-up (yay! thanks refs and promoters for rewarding those who register early and race the series!), I had a second row start behind Flying Penguins Jess.  She bobbled a little, but we got up the road and I was in about 8th onto the grass.  From there, I got passed a few times, but was riding well - trying to spin smoothly.  I eked the insides of a few corners and passed some riders who were taking outside lines... loving the way my bike and I are working together in the corners right now.

Did I say I love barriers?  On the concrete barrier, which was sorta through a hole in some chain link I managed to slam my front wheel down onto it one time and ran my crank/pedal into the fence on a different lap.  Dumb mistakes.  Luckily, no damage.

I wound up 11th on the day, out of 19, so it's actually my first 'bottom 50%' finish this year (a statistic that crossresults.com keeps track of for me).  Happily, Jess finished 2nd and LH got a few upgrade points herself even after laying it down in the sand on the last lap.  Good racing, ladies.

The only thing I'd change - podium's only went to 3 in all of the amateur categories - possibly the only race we'll do this year that doesn't at least recognize the top 5 with a chance to get their picture taken on the podium.  Congrats to Shea, anyway - he was 5th!

Some of the links lead to pics taken by awesome local photographers.  We forgot our camera both days this weekend.

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