Running some numbers on this weekends race: With only 1 race at the fields this year, I figured it was maybe 60/40 that we would have a wet, nasty day, since that's probably been the history. But it is the fields, you'd think we lived in the pacific northwest... as the weekend drew near, the rains came... and then Saturday, it REALLY came down. So... sure to be wet race day.
The course was set up with a 100m start straight into a 90 left to a 180 around a pole, then straight to an off-camber muddy side along the long end of basketball court. A nice sweeper on the short edge, and then on the concrete for the trip back along the long edge. Then the first dismount had us ride through 2m of mud, 3 uneven stairs, and remount on pavement. Definitely the most difficult feature of the course.
Other fun sections included bombing down the wet sled hill, float the bike at the bottom, and try to hit the 10ft wide gate leading to the road. Hop the curb, ride pavement halfway back up the other side, and shoulder the bike up the other side. Remount some where either in or just beyond the mud puddle, and ride up and down some slick grass punctuated with extra slickery rail ties.
Lots of field crossings around the soccer fields included many extra soggy sections. The worst soggy was right before the start/finish, which promised to make any sprint finish exciting.
So we lined up at 1:44 fr the A race in 30* with some light flakes falling. I guess there wasn't much going on this weekend, as we had all kinds of visitors around... guys came in from Pittsburgh, and Columbus, which was nice to fill the field.
I lined up second row, and felt great at the start. sitting in about 10th heading into the first turn. I hopped off the bike to do the 180, and run the long basket ball off camber section.
The goal is to race the start aggressively, because someone will screw up the start and hold you up. So I'm feeling good about my position... then it turns I'm the one doing the holding up. At the short end I intended to remount, and ride to the stairs... but I end up tripping over my own feet... and dropping my bike. By the time I regain my balance the bike is 10feet behind me... and most of the field has passed before I'm moving again.
Reset button. So the rest of the race was spent trying to regain any of the positions I had lost. I was not very successful. In fact I was going backwards faster than forwards.
The good news is I was happy with my wheel/tire choice. I really like how the Grifo Challenge tires work in the mud. I was running about 30psi. I guess the rule is you should bottom out no more than once a lap... I think I may have bottomed out once all race. The tire didn't gunk up in the thicker mud, held about as well as anything else I've run in these conditions, and cleaned off in the really wet sections. Very nice.
I was also pleased with the lines I was working. Finding solid, fast lines pretty much every where. Thought the far soccer field was nasty until someone (Ernesto) cleared out the large trashcan in the corner... that helped my crossings tremendously.
The bad news is I really have no top end. I'm pretty much nowhere near my max heart rate, and my average for the entire race has been consistently one zone lower than ever before.
At about three quarters through the first lap, I was ready to just pack it in and go home. I didn't. I decided this would be a race of attrition, which was soon starting to play out as Rick broke his dérailleur cable halfway through the next lap. Then I started seeing more and more guys on the side of the course. I just pushed through riding my own race where I was.
My buddy Brett missed the start... I think he was focusing a bit to much on the after race beers. I'm think he saw the field go by, and decided he better hurry up to get to the Master's start... but we all started together. So, he started at least a minute behind. He managed to catch my group, which I promptly fell out of.... then I passed him when he flatted on one of the rail ties. After the race, he asked me why I was going so slow. Nice, buddy.
With two to go, I noticed Jason from Spin was coming back towards me... so I at least had a rabbit. My goal was to NOT get lapped, and maybe to beat Jason. Not fantastic goals, but you need something out there.
Jason knew I was coming, and was sprinting out of corners. But I had the technical bits down, so through the lap, I kept closing the gap. I made the first goal and finished on the lead lap. So then went after the rest of the gap. Jason ran the basket ball court. I ran the off camber, but rode the rest. That helped loads. Then I matched his acceleration away, but completed closing the gap on the sled hill descent, and attacked him on the run up. It was enough that he gave it up. It doesn't matter for his points since we're in different races, but it certainly helped my overall race day to bring him back.
I'm not real sure how the timing is going on these A races... and I'm really not complaining. I did 7 laps (I think) in about 58min.... over 8m per lap. I did see Tony coming in probably 2 or so minutes behind me when I was hitting the sled hill, so I know they must have finished up in somewhere near 45-50 min. No results yet, so I'm not sure how close I was to getting lapped, how many total people were in the field, or where I placed (overall and Master's). I do think I would have been hard pressed to hold off the fast guys for another lap.
I'll rebuff my last paragraph by saying I totally appreciate all the work that Team Lakeeffect puts into these race. I'm not sure what Bill has to do to get Lynn to score all these races and put up with all of us stuck up, prima donna racers every weekend, but I'm sure he doesn't do enough. Though I did see Lynn and Renae picking through a rather extensive collection of wine bottles after the race. Every race has been well laid out, and well run even if a lot of us whine about some minor point that we think we know better about.
I have to say that this area would totally suck if we didn't have this series... thanks to everyone for doing what you all do!
The other "good" news is I'm now fighting a sore throat. So that may have had a part in my lack of top end... and I've got 3 weeks before my next race... so I can recover, and maybe find that confounded bridge.