Monday, November 23, 2009

If there were an award for hole shots...

After a few weeks of either not great racing or overindulgence of fried food, I was ready to go for the Howard County double this weekend.  Featuring two really fun courses by the BBC and C3 guys, local, and both on the MABRA series, I was hoping to get something back and put together a couple of good races.  I was also hoping to win, but it turns out that while I was fast comparatively early in the season, everyone around me is getting faster.

Saturday - Schooley Mill.  A new race in a great new venue.  This venue must be a promoter's (and racer's) dream - indoor bathrooms and reg, centralized parking, the right amount of pavement for an uphill start, built in horse jumps and wooden steps to use as obstacles, a good muddy marshy area by a creek, a pond to threaten anyone who misses that right hand turn, and even a steep hill to put the barriers on.  Off the bike 3 times per lap - and they didn't even have to use the sandy horse arena!

After helping at reg all morning, I put in two laps before getting on the trainer for a full warmup during the elite masters race. Cool to see teammate Bernie win a sprint at the line, then I was headed to my start.

In the pre-rides, it was clear that getting to the first runup in good position could be critical - from a total of about 8 times through there including during the race, I never did find a comfortable line for the dismount and run up those steps.  At the whistle I pushed up the hill for the hole shot.  Again.  My starts are certainly in order right now.

Hitting the grass, I could tell by the cheering that BBC rider Lindsay D. was off my back wheel to the right.  In the first off camber turn, all of the sudden, there were handlebars locked with mine on the left.  An elbow and a line change later, the other side of those handlebars was into the tape (albeit temporarily).  It wasn't a good choice tactically for her to be trying to pass there - sit on my wheel until it opens up a bit - if you're strength is strength, don't try to pass on the technical sections - especially not on the outside of an off camber.  Shortly after that first run-up, said rider and a few others blew by.  This was a bit of a power course, and I just didn't have it.  I think I knew that with a heart-sinking feeling even on my warmup laps, where I was in my littlest gear and standing for some of the hills.

I was running in 5th for a bit, but the gaps in front were opening and gaps behind were closing.  Doron passed me at the barriers and I kept her close for a long time, going back and forth a few times, but she pulled away during lap 3.  I could tell Lindsay D. was close and getting closer - her dad, who is a sweetie and usually cheers for me, stopped doing so about halfway through the race.  On the last lap, he was urging her to pass and drop me - I dropped into a bigger gear and gained a bit of a gap on the next flat section.  Even though Doron went into the tape at the end of the last lap, I couldn't get her back and wound up 6th.  It was a great ride for her and for Lindsay, but I was pretty disappointed in my own effort.  I kept my head in the game, but the legs just weren't where I want them to be and I made a few technical mistakes that cost time.

After the race, I just sat on the back of the car, felt like serious crapola.  I think a bunch of people talked to me then.  I'm not sure who they were or what we talked about.  Eventually I went and found a twix bar (none of the healthy recovery food I had seemed at all interesting).  The sugar rush helped.

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