I have no idea how I'm going to do on the race. On the weekend rides, I'm one of the first guys up the hills, and I hang out on the front for the whole day. I'll pull a group, or get in a pace line and work... it doesn't matter to me. So the real question is how will I respond after beating myself up on the cross bike. I've done this before at the Raccoon Rally, and I was not that great on the MTB race on day 2.
There are about 50 or 60 riders in the B group. I know about 5-10 from the weekend rides and Tuesday night races. B race is Cat 4/5/Cit, so I have no delusions of actually being on the podium. At the line, they add the 5 women and 1 junior, and reduce the race to 4 laps around the 8.3 mile course. I felt good riding around, warming up. So I'm confident of finishing well for myself.
The course has a 6 mile section of downslope, followed by a steep (not terrible) short climb, and a longer upgrade. So the first lap, I'm in the group until the short climb, where I start loosing places like crazy! I was not ready for that! My legs felt a little tired, but I should have climbed that faster. Let's hear it for diaries, because I responded almost exactly the same in the Racoon Raly MTB race.
It turns out the field split at the climb, and I was on the front of the carnage! Chasing like crazy to get back on. I felt someone on my wheel and look back to see the "leader" of the weekend rides. He's giving me encouragement, but I'm dying, so I ask him to pull a bit, and we start a rotation. What's really bad about this is the guy doesn't climb well at all... he's a straight sprinter (and a good one) but he caught me, which should NOT have happened.... I write this off to the cross race. After a few rotations, he's done, and I'm on my own again.
I picked up the junior and we start working together. We're still in sight of the group, and we pickup a third guy who popped off. I think this guy was our downfall. For the second lap the 3 of us (or 2 and a half) work like crazy to catch back on. I knew if we didn't catch the group by the second time up the hill, we wouldn't see them again. So I'm really pulling to try to bring it back. Nothing! Every time I see the group, they're further ahead. Then the second time up the hill, one of the guys says there are riders coming up behind us.I'm both thankful for the potnential help and pissed that we couldn't stay away.
Another guy I know (Phil, a pretty strong climber) comes up with 3 of the women riders. Now we've got 7, and we start a rotating pace line... to try to catch back on. The problem here is the women are still racing for place. There is only 1 woman up the road... the guys are racing for nothing...as we are probably looking at placings in the30+ range. So we've really got 3 1/2 guys and the women doing work, but still saving themselves.
So 2 laps to go, and some help... we share the work with me and the other guy I know doing most of it. I'm the fastest decender, but no one would get on my wheel to follow me down. Both times up the hill, I died... and then had to chase back to the group... as did the Junior, only he had more ground to make up.
On the last lap, I told Phil, I was going to bury myself, as this was only a training ride. So I pulled like crazy. I lost the group on the hill again, and caught back on. The junior never made it back this time.
As we were coming up to the line. I verified with one of the women that they were still in contention, then told the other two guys to let them go and stay out of the way. They pulled until about 500m from the line when two of the ladies jumped on it. The third tried to go, but didn't have enough left.
Then the guy that was only doing 1/2 work left... and I got pissed. I bridged up to him, but didn't have anything left after that.... so Iguess I did bury myself pretty well.
I finished, and didn't get lapped by the A race. We were probably 5 minutes down on the main group (based on conditions of the guys still at the finish). I heard that one group did try to go up the road, but didn't make it, so it stayed together for the sprint, and one of the guys I know took 3rd. There were only about 3 or 4 guys that came across behind us... everyone else bailed. Including the guy that helped me up the first climb. I think he only did 1 lap and packed it up.
I was pretty disappointed in my Sunday race... I should have been in the group. Maybe if I hadn't ridden to and from the race on Saturday... who knows. After driving home, I could hardly walk. Though the more I move the better I feel. I ended up with 2 naps after the race.