Wednesday this week brought the Triad Mountain Bike Race Series to Hobby Park in Winston-Salem. Being so close to work it was hard to not go to this one! Arriving at the venue about 1/2hr prior to the 6:15PM start I got registered and tried to get loosened-up while also trying to get in some hydration and nutrition, as I was pretty hungry from the stressful day at work.
Bantering with a few racing friends, I tried to coerce them all into racing in the CAT1-Open class with me (I was still on the single speed of course, as it is my only bike); however, I was unsuccessful. On the start line there were 10 of us in the class, which is pretty good for a training series race, and as expected I was the only one riding a single speed. Running a 2:1 gear ratio (34/17) I found myself behind a few riders off the start line as they clunked through their gears. Then we finally made the sharp left-turn to start the climb up the dreaded soap box derby hill. I found myself in 4th position as I tried to get into the front riders' draft as they continued to clunk through their gears as we approached the pitch up the hill. Then, as I was hoping, they all started clicking away again shifting back down to smaller gears for the steep paved climb. I quickly looked over my left shoulder and swung out to hold my spin. just as they all set into a rhythm spinning up the climb my spin took me blowing by them at pace. Just after cresting the climb I took another look back to see a good 40yd gap to the leaders of the chase! I had once again succeeded at taking the lead into the single track.
This small gap remained the same with little change +/- for the entire 1st lap of 3. Each technical climb they were able to gain a few yards, but each flat/technical descent I was able to gain a few yards or more. Lap 2 was more of the same, but with just about a mile to go Gabor appeared on my wheel out of nowhere!! I gave a yell back asking where he came from, then told him to not tell anyone I was getting tired! LOL His response was that he was no longer racing due to a flat, and now he was just going to try to hang on my wheel. With that it became a more relaxed/fun time as we chatted and continued to shred the trail. Then he was gone just as quickly as he had arrived! (He unfortunately suffered a 2nd flat in the same trail location as the 1st.) Now I started to catch lap traffic on my 3rd and final lap. I also started to feel some cramping in my right calf. I quickly swallowed a GU and took a drink to wash it down with hopes of holding it off until the finish. It seemed to work! As I approached the final clearing to re-enter the final section of single track I couldn't see anyone in sight. After passing a couple more lap riders I was bombing the final descent to roll across the finish line with a minute or more gap back to 2nd place. Wow, was I toast! The legs were spent, but it felt great!
Now I'm preparing to head to Ducktown , TN in the morning for US Cusp East Race#4! I'll be carpooling with my teammates, Matt and Tyler, again with a trip start time of 9AM from Greensboro. We've got a hotel room and plan for some good rest after a pre-ride to check out the course. Really hopin it isn't another mudfest like Columbia last Sunday as it is no fun re-building a bike after a mess like that. Especially if it means replacing damaged components!