Tuesday, October 4, 2011
2011 Landmine Classic, Root 66 Race Series
Woke up at 6:30 w/ plenty of time and knew I needed to be on the road by 8 am. Too much time... Ate my not instant oatmeal (after the online lecture from Gewilli on how bad instant cereal was for you), farted around, and suddenly it was 8:45 and I was still in my pjs! Ooops... Driving to Hingham I was prepping my checklist of things to NOT forget since I knew the moment in pulled into the lot, it was going to be a crazy rush: fill back pockets with 1)extra bottle, 2) insta fix a flat, 3) gels. Then soften the front fork just a touch, double check my tire pressure: 26 psi for the front tubeless, but 34 for the rear since that was tube'd and knew the course got quite rocky at times. No need for my somewhat 1/2 working polar piece of crap bike computer since I knew the course had mile markers though it. The race was starting somewhat behind schedule which left me time to register (and pay for a guy who thought he had pre-registered and had therefor no money on him) and get no more than a 3 min warm up.
I let our field of 14 go and focused on warming up. I knew it was a long loop and would have time to try to catch up. After about 15 mins I was starting to make contact with some the stragglers and passing them. I was feeling pretty good especially on the technical sections and the little "hills". Like last year, the next age group "fast train" caught me and I grabbed the back of it. I was able to hold on for much longer than anticipated. On those short asphalt and fire road sections, it was really paying off to be hanging onto a faster wheel. At about the 1/3 mark, we passed Robert from my group fixing a flat. He had been my mark for the second half of the season! At Hodges Village, I had actually passed him but he caught back up and I eventually faded. Passing him because of a mechanical this time was not a gratifying way to pass him. I was eventually dropped from the fast group when the guy in front dabbed on a short steep uphill, forcing me to dismount in the middle of the hill. By the time I got to the top, they had a little gap, which turned it into a large gap when they hit another section of pavement. Back to riding on my own. I caught Garry (single-speed class) and then Mike (in my group). Mike held onto my wheel for a short while.
About a mile later I was flying down some single track when I almost collided into the above mentioned fast group. They were coming from the other direction. They were yelling that I was going down the wrong way! Oxygen deprived I yelled back they were the ones going the wrong way, but eventually caught on that they meant we all missed a turn somewhere. I turned around and followed them up the hill picking up Mike again along the way. We eventually found the turn we missed. It was marked by only one arrow up too high on a tree. All the other turns were very well marked, and there were a lot of turns on that 26 mile single loop, but somehow this one got screwed up. Second time trying to hold onto the fast group but got dropped pretty quickly. Since I was not ridding w/ high placement expectations, I was not too upset about missing the turn. I was just glad I had made it there in time to start.
Maybe a mile later I spotted a Team Edge kit in front. Slowly I clawed my way to the person's back wheel, and it was Robert again! I must have been of course for longer than I thought! In a way having gone off course was equalizing the race more between him and I. I debated passing him right away but recalled that it required too much effort at Hodges and paid for it. Instead I decided to stay behind him for a bit and focus on pacing myself. He was putting a little gap on me on the flat stuff but the moment it turned rocky/technical I was right back on his wheel. I'd give the bike credit for being better in the tech stuff but he was riding an epic Sworks as well. Eventually the positions reversed, and I would create a small gap on him in the tech stuff but then he would find his way back onto my wheel. After the last feedzone, the gap became became large enough to stick. I kept on looking backwards expecting him to pop up but that never happened.
I finished in 6th place, 40 seconds behind 5th. I know I lost more than two minutes for going off course. But who knows, maybe 5th also missed that turn. Overall I was two minutes slower than last year. Not exactly what I was hoping for. But that is why there is next year...