I had not done any XC races this year. There were a few that was interested in doing and something else conflicted on the calendar or I just couldn’t get myself to make the drive. This race was the last one in the DINO series and there was going to be a few teammates there. I also had someone to share the ride with me so that always makes it easier to go. Before this race I had not been on my mtb since the Mohican. I figured I might be a little rusty, but it didn’t really matter as I was not worried about winning it or anything. But, I have put in some good miles and figured I would not be too bad.
The weekend didn’t start off too well for making a good showing at the bike race. There was a soccer game on Saturday in the middle of the afternoon. I sat in the sun baking for two games. This was not a good way to stay hydrated. After the games we went to the next town’s festival to see a few people and get a bite to eat. I figured what could a beer or two hurt. Well, several beers and hours later we got home a lot later than I wanted. Good thing I had most of my stuff ready.
Sunday morning came around real early. It was a cool morning and the fog was pretty thick. I had the top down on the jeep so it was a little on the cool side in some sections. But, it was still a nice drive and had some good company to help it go by pretty fast. The sun came out right before we got there and really warmed things up. I set the canopy up and started to get ready for the race, signed up and went for a little warm up ride. It was pretty warm by then and I could feel the effects of the sun and beer that I experienced the day before.
Before I knew it I was running late to the starting line. Well, maybe not that late, but it was getting close. I was probably there before Bob rolled in to the parking lot. LOL Just kidding Bob, well kind of. The groups in front started taking off. I didn’t want on the first row and figured I would do what felt good and try to not worry about everyone else. Sometimes that is easier said than done. We took off across the field going faster than I was ready to do. I didn’t want to completely red line it already and tried to ride at a pace that worked for me. I backed it off a little and tried to keep in contact to the group in front of me. I was doing a pretty good job for a little while. There started to be a gap in front of the guy right in front of me. I asked and tried to get around, but they didn’t really let that happen.
I was not riding how I should have and then when we hit the berm section I was a little more shaky than I normally would be. The time off of the bike and not really having trail like that around here to ride made me not trust the front wheel as much as I should have. I was still rolling pretty well, but the guy in front of me pulled away. I rode really well in the second half of the lap. The tighter stuff and the section that was muddy was more in my wheel house. I also cruised down the levee at a really good pace. I am sure all of the road miles helped.
I maintained a pretty steady pace for the next two laps. I passed some people and was passed by a couple. It was really hard to figure out what age group all the people around you were in so I was not sure where I was, but felt pretty good about it. I was riding really strong considering everything. The only thing that I was a little slow on was the bigger climbs. SWW has a couple hills that are fairly good sized. I didn’t have any issue climbing them, I just didn’t climb as fast as I needed too. I am sure the previous day’s activities were part of that, but I am just not where I want to be with my climbing. I really need to improve that.
I ended up finishing 30th overall and 11th in the 40-49 class. I am pretty happy with that. I always would like to finish farther up, but I really can’t expect to with out putting more effort in. Even with all the things I did to keep from being fast, I was less than 8 min. off from being on the podium for age group. Maybe next year I will be able to get a little closer. My main focus is not XC racing, but if I do better at the races that I would like to do well in, then it would have to move me up the finisher list for XC races too. Maybe next time.