I took off as easy as I could with out going too slow. I knew it was going to be a long day and as humid as it was when we started would not be helping the situation. As the climb was going up, I sat on the guys wheel in front of me. He was going a little slower than I thought I should be, but I was not sure if the adrenalin was running high. The racer behind me made the pass on the climb and I figured what the heck and went with him. We cruised up the rest of the climb and made our way down the trail I was hurting, but not as bad as I thought I would and held the wheel in front of me. We were rolling good, but as we climbed Foxey the pace was slower than it had been. I was not worried about it when climbing, but when it didn’t pick up at the top, I made the pass and bombed down the fire lane section. This is where the trail knowledge helped me as I knew I should be able to let it rip in this section. I just hoped nothing washed out too much to give me any surprises.
The first guy I passed near the start had caught back up and passed me somewhere near the Fire Tower trail. I stayed with him for the rest of that section and tried to draft as much as I could on the road section. I was not feeling too bad and wanted to stay with him. He offered to let me by, but I knew I was not ready to be in front. I tried to share my knowledge with him as much as I could for the sections that I knew could be an issue. He was fast and I felt it was the right thing to do. The other benefit was that I didn’t want him to go down in front of me and take me out too.
I stayed close for the rest of the first lap. As we climbed up to the camp ground where the start was, this was a section of trail that was just put in for this race. I rode it once that morning and knew it was steep, but didn’t think it was that bad. I did climb it with out a problem, but it would have done me a lot better if I would have dropped down in to the small ring up front. Powering up the climb in too big of a gear took a toll on my legs. This let the rider in front of me pull away on the first climb up to the singletrack. I was hoping to recover along the top and catch him again, but it didn’t happen. The rest of the loop I tried to recover as much as I could, but still keep moving at a good pace.
Once I was out on fire lane 7 and farther, I was wearing down badly. I was trying to not slow down too much and found myself looking over my shoulder a lot. I thought I heard someone behind me several times, but I did’t see anyone. That place is good for making you hear the ghost bikers behind you. Every time I ride out there I think I hear someone behind me. I pushed it hard and kept my fingers crossed. Late in the loop before I rode down past the house, there was a rider in front of me. It gave me a little more energy and I could catch and pass him. I let loose on the last down hill and hammered to the finish. I don’t know if that other guy was even in my class, but I at least felt better that I passed him.
My results don’t seem like I really had that great of a race, but I am very happy with how I rode. I was much stronger than I had been and way better than I thought I would be. I just was not fast as I needed to be. The group of racers that did show up were fast and I was not that far off the pace. I needed to improve about 12 minutes to be up with the leader. That is not too bad for most of the races and even more so for a trail this hard. So, maybe there is hope yet.
This was just my 3rd ride in the woods for the year. I really need to get out there more, but I can see that all the rode miles are helping too. With the schedule getting a little less full, I need to find a way to work in both types of riding in to the week. I also know a few things that would really help me improve but I just need to actually work on it. The year is going by fast, so I hope to get there before it is too late.
I want to thank 40 lb Sledgehammer productions for putting on the Southern Five race series. It is great to see the racing scene building again. I just hope it continues to grow and not get too over saturated and hurt each other for attendance. I don’t know if the Dino race at Logansport kept too many people from attending this race, but I am sure the the Louisville Triple crown kept several Kentucky racers from attending. It would be great if at least those two race series would work together and build a bigger and better race series than what the Dino series is. Or even better yet, work with Brian to make all three series benefit. There is a catch 22 to the race thing. There are a lot of people that won’t come out and race when the turn outs are down, but if they don’t come out the turn outs will be down. Kind of the chicken or the egg thing.
It would be great to get some races that I don’t have to drive all weekend to go race and get the kind of turn outs and competition that the Tennessee series pulls in. I know the potential is there. Maybe some day it will be like it used to be. Come on out and join in on the fun.