Sunday was the season finale of the DINO series. The race was held at the Southwestway Park. This was my second trip there. There was some changes to the course so I was not sure how much of it would be the same. The map looked similar to what I have done before, but they said we were going down the hill we went up before. So, I knew some would be different. I didn’t get there early enough to ride a full lap and had to go with what I saw and hoped the rest would work itself out. My plan was to try and stick toward the front at the start and see how long I could hold on.
I was a little worried about the long road start. I figured the pace would be quick and if I get the heart rate up too quick, I could be in for a long day. I was going hard, but still felt good. I made a few passes to try and move up even more before we hit the tight section. I felt like I was not too far from the front when we hit the singletrack, but not exactly sure how many were in front of me. I was holding the wheel in front of me pretty good and even put a little gap on the guy behind me. I worked my way around another rider or two and tried to not let too many catch me.
I could not hold off everyone, but I felt like I was doing a better job than what I have done in most of the other races. The long levee sections were nice and fast. I tried to hold the wheel in front of me as close as I could and get some drafting benefit. I was also turning pretty good with only a few close calls. The trail was hard and dusty. The corners were slick in spots. I felt like the back tire was way too low and figured I was going to end up with a flat several different times. I also did a couple front wheel slides, but managed to keep it upright. I was really happy with how I was managing my efforts and still not going slow. I could climb the big hill in a fairly large gear and was moving faster than the riders in front of me.
I held on to my pace pretty good for the first two laps. I passed a few and was passed by a few. I didn’t feel like I dropped too far back in the field. In fact, I was pretty happy with a few of the racers that I did pass and figured I had to be up there a little bit. I was racing well and pushing the limits as hard as I could. I was worried the third lap would not be the same as the first two. I too a gel right before we hit the woods. I was breathing hard from making some moves on the open section. I also knew the trail was going to be tight real quick and didn’t have a lot of time. I took as much of the packet I could and it just didn’t hit me right. It stuck in my mouth and I was having trouble swallowing it. I was still breathing hard and I was in to the woods now and could not get a drink very easy. I had to slow way down so I could get a drink and try to wash it down.
It started to get better, but now I was not feeling as good as I was before. So, it seems that trying to keep myself from bonking actually played a part in me almost bonking. I got back up to speed as quickly as I could. I could hear someone behind me and at one time thought they were going to want to pass. I am not sure they were actually that close since a couple times I could turn around, there was no one there. I kept pushing it, but could tell I was going slower. I could not climb the hill in as big of gear that I did the previous laps, but it was not what I would call a small gear. I was passed by Jimmy Phipps and David Gardner. I was hurting, but when Jimmy hollered at me to “come on”, I dug a little harder to try and hold their wheel. I was not right on them but close.
When we hit the field section, everyone put the hammer down. With them right there, I was doing what I could to try and catch back up. When I turned the last corner, I could see them up there, but it was a good amount away. The racer in my stood up and just mashed it with all I had left. I was gaining ground, but running out of room. David saw me coming up next to him and I think I shocked him. He pushed it harder, but I was able to snag it right at the line. I was completely wiped out, just like I should have been. I was feeling really good about my race and my effort. I was stoked to make the pass at the finish line, but a little later (probably after some oxygen got back in to my brain) I realized that I did all that work to make the pass and I still didn’t beat him. He races in a different age group and was actually 2 minutes ahead of me. Bummer! Still felt good to make the effort.
I ended up 34th overall and 13th in age group. I am happy with that, but actually thought I might have been a little farther up than the 13th. It was hard to tell how many people were in front of the pact at the start. I never expected to race with the front guys, so I was paying more attention to the guys around me and trying to figure out if I needed to try and make a pass or hold where I was. You can always second guess yourself about a lot of different things in a race. But, doing things differently can make other things change that you do not want to happen. Going farther up front might have had be blowing up early and dropping way back. It is hard to tell and nothing I can do about it now. I just have to try and use my best judgement on what my body can do at that moment.
After all the points were entered, it worked out that I ended up the 2013 season in 13th place in age group. I am pretty happy with that. The 40-49 age group is one of the biggest groups and full of a lot of talent. I ended up in 30th place overall. I am even more happy about that finish. I improved a lot this season and ended up racing pretty good for the last two races. Of course I wish I could have finished closer to those places the rest of the season, but I can’t complain about doing better as the year goes. Also, looking at the points, if I would have been able to make some trail work days in the spring, the possible 30 bonus points would have moved me up 6 places in the overall. It would have also moved me 4 places in age group. That would have made my placings even more to be happy with, but nothing I can do about that now. It is what it is. I can understand why the bonus points are there. I just need to do better about getting some work days in no matter when they are.
I would like to thank Team Adventure’s for helping me put in a good season. I would like to thank all of the team sponsors for helping my bike run good and me look like I am faster than I really am. There were several things that really helped me improve this year. I just hope to continue to improve as I have some more races to do this year and hope to start off next season even better. My goal is to work my way up even farther in the standings. There are several fast guys making the jump to Cat 1, but there are also several fast Cat 3 guys that will be in the mix. Until then, I hope to see you on the trail or at another race soon. Thanks for taking the time to read about a mid pack Cat 2 racer.