What was that?

This race was basically in my back yard. Only being a 25min drive I couldn’t see skipping it. Of course I knew this particular event wasn’t going to play to my strengths on a bike with all the uphill, but this is all great training.

This was a 5 lap race for the Cat4 hero’s and I was pretty happy about that after lap one. The course starts off downhill and as one might suspect the group was very together during this stage. The first turn I had wiggled my way through the pack and positioned myself near the front as I knew the road was going to be dirt. What I didn’t know, or at least I didn’t believe those that pre-drove/rode the course and reported back, was that the term ‘dirt’ was used rather interchangeably with ROCKS. I had a flash back to racing Hare Scrambles on my dirt bike and riding down some dry creek beds! Only my tires were a smidgen skinnier than in those days. Either way, it didn’t matter as we all had to race under the same conditions. This road was also uphill and pretty long. This is one of the few times in my ‘career’ that I was upset I didn’t scout the course as I was in the big ring for the duration of this climb. This proved to be the downfall for my race in my opinion. Near the top of this climb the pace picked up and because of the road conditions being loose gravel/dirt it was all seated and me being out of gears I could react as needed. I was passed by several people inside of this group was the 5 guys I should have never let out of my sight.
The group that passed me never really got that far up the road, but by the time I realized the group of 5 had pulled off the front it was too late. I was stuck in the back of the front group and left to travel it alone. With four and half laps to go (and part of this lap I was completely unfamiliar with still) I choose to remain calm and settle into a moderately hard pace. My thought was, I can keep going and the folks up the road will either come back to me or they are stronger on the day. Turns out, 5 of them were stronger. Through out the race there were casualties of the group up the road and as we did lap after lap, I was able to pick them off and continue riding at my pace. Climbing the hills at MY pace (slow) is a huge benefit for me since all the surges up the hills to keep in check with other riders usually burns me up. Finally on the last lap, I was feeling pretty good and ended up with a couple other guys. When I got to them they were both pretty labored and seemed to be working a little harder than I. We turned the corner up the long dirt hill one last time, only to have one of the two riders get a flat. Tough luck buddy, we’ll wait at the finish for you. At that point I didn’t think there were too many riders still up the road as I had been picking a bunch off along the way. I asked the last rider I was with how many were up there, he responded with “5 or 6”. This was deflating, they were absolutely gone. Not even close to being in sight. At this point I knew I was off the podium so no cash today. I was left to ride along with this guy who apparently wasn’t ready to do any pulling since he proclaimed to be ‘dead’. I continued on at my pace and looked off into the distance behind us to see we were in no danger of being caught. (I could see my team mate Dave, but he was in no position to close that gap at that point) It was just the two of us.
We climbed the ‘wall’ one last time and finished off the remainder of the ride. For fun I put in some surges to keep him honest, and just incase there were less than 5 guys up the road I wanted to make sure this guy didn’t sneak by me. Coming into the final turn and onto the sprint finish line, there is a sharp 90 with gravel all over the corner which meant the run up to the turn was far more important than the sprint out of it. I made sure to watch his shadow and keep him on my left (the outside of the right hand turn) so he couldn’t come around me or duck down under me. In true Cat4 Heroism I sprinted to the line securing my 6th place finish!
Snatched up a cold beverage while sitting on the tailgate with Dave enjoying some sunshine before heading home. It was a good race, a little disappointing, but that is how bike racing goes sometimes.

p.s. I didn’t proof read this, and I was not very focused when I wrote it, so I apologize if it sounds like gibberish and there is a plethora of punctuation that is missing or extra.