Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wood chips were flying

Here is my race report from OCup#3 at Hardwood Hills.

We arrived at Hardwood Hills about 7:45am, in time for Scott to get ready and warmed up for this 8:30am race. This race our start time was 9:30am instead of the usual 11:30am. I wanted to get a really good warm up this time. I got geared up and started warming up on the gravel road beside the race course about 45 min before the race start.

There were over 60 guys in our start pen this time, as they started my and Deny’s master sport categories together. We were the second wave to go at 9:34am. If you’ve never been to Hardwood Hills, the start of the course is all on wood chips. The weather has been pretty dry and hot for awhile, so the result of sending 60 guys racing down the course at top speed creates quite the dust cloud – I’ve been in some dusty races, but I’ve never seen that much dust before at the start – it was like a fog, I could barely see the riders up front for awhile. Someone crashed right in the middle of the pack; thankfully I avoided the pileup and continued on. I didn’t want to be at the back of the pack before we hit the singletrack, so I pushed to keep up. I guess I was doing ok, cause when we got into the singletrack, I saw Deny only about 4-5 riders in front of me (usually he’s gone out of my view by now!).

A rider in front got hung up on a rooty corner and took a few of us out – we were all pretty close, so this hold up ended up letting a bunch of guys get by and that’s the last I saw of Deny. That sucks, but that is racing so you deal with it and move on. It’s why it’s so important to get the hole shot on the start lap.

The rest of the first lap went pretty well for me, I started reeling in guys from my category and I was feeling great - I am not saying it was easy, but I wasn’t dying out there so I think my warm-up certainly helped this time. I struggled on the larger climbs, but I paced myself and got back into a groove on the singletrack. On the double track sections I made the extra effort to pass guys – in the past I would usually take time to recover and drink on the doubletrack, but not this time and I think it worked well for me.

2nd lap started up those dam wood chips again. Scott was in the feed zone handing out our bottles to us – he was easy to pick out in the line-up of feeders with his fancy white shoes. This lap went well, I could tell I was tiring, but everyone was I think and I just kept motoring along. Jenn was out filming and I saw her as I was flying down the ‘coffee run’ – I let out a ‘woop’ to let her know I was having fun. I was starting to catch up to some of the women who started behind me. They only had to do 2 laps, and I was obviously not thinking straight when I said to one of the ladies ‘you’re almost done!’ and she looked at me and said ‘I still have one more lap to do DUDE!’ – I obviously can’t count during a race, she was still on her first lap. I had a good laugh at myself, but I was just trying to encourage her as she looked to be struggling.

3rd lap started up those damn wood chips again, grabbed my last bottle from Scott. I was riding up the trail, and this guy up front was just slowly pulling away, and I thought if I could just push a little harder I’d catch him – I clicked down one more gear and it was enough to catch up at the top of the next climb. The guy had a cool number plate – he got the number ‘888’, which I hadn’t seen before, I had no idea what category he was in at the time, cause I was in the 300’s.

I passed a few more guys, putting the effort in on the double track to be in front when we hit the single track sections again. There was one guy whom I could not quite pass, he was not in my category, but I still wanted to pass him. I instead just tried to stay close to him and then I would try to pass him on the final stretch to the finish line. I hugged his wheel going down the bmx track, and as soon as I got on the wood chips, I put the bike in big ring and started to sprint around him – he wasn’t gonna give up easy though, he heard me coming and started sprinting too – we went right to the line, wood chips flying up behind us and I pipped him at the line – I beat him by 4 tenths of a second – ½ a wheel I believe.

For me it was a very satisfying and fun race. I finished 15th out of 37. I am looking forward to the next race, OCup #4 at Mountain View in Midland.

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