Only the second mountain bike race of the Wild Rockies South series, almost a month and a half after the first. Time to find out if I have been training enough to catch Mark Stones, who goes to sleep every night wondering if he did enough miles to stay in front of me. The short answer: well, not really, but closer than at the Barking Spider.
Weather was not encouraging, significant precipitation recently with various puddles on the ground but thanks to the sandy soil not totally a mud bog. The sun peeked out a little right before our start, making the armwarmers a little too much with full-finger gloves.
I rolled out in the flat start, as usual getting to sit in front of the other vet sports and only three other spt/expt clydesdales (Rich, Mark, and some guy). Until the climbing started, then it was bye-bye skinny vet sports. Super Dave passed me right after the first little singletrack section that was the only break from climbing in the first third of the race. Back to doubletrack climbing, and Mark wheels by as my chain is making nasty grinding noises. No sign of Rich. I guess that the one-hour Tuesday nighters don't cut it for my entire training regimen (with Thursday swim) especially with their limited rolling hills versus the known tendency of mountain bike races to have lots and lots of climbing.
Some flatter, even slightly downhill fire roads are next, with mud puddles that nicely silence my annoying chain. Maybe I should have cleaned it after the Seattle mudfest? But these fire roads lead to the great "Rob Lowe Summit" climb of the middle of the race. And who do I spy not all that far ahead of me but Mark, struggling uphill in his middle ring because those same mud puddles gunked up his bottom bracket so bad he couldn't use the little ring. I get really close, then can't hold on when he rolls off on the downhill. Hmm, another known weakness.
Then there is some refreshing sleet. Did I mention the weather wasn't all that encouraging? More climbing, Mark in view, more descending, where did he go. I get to take the Sport loop extensions for the first time. One features lots of riding in a creek bed, currently being used by a bit of water as you might imagine with the recent rain. There were several wheel-grabbing dips and lots of mud, but not as bad as the wheel-deep creek the Expert loop extension went across. Some grunting little climbs (which I hike-a-bike) and back to the nice easy beginner course on fire roads. Mark put a little time on me while I am stuck behind a should-be clydesdale on some climbing singletrack, so when the sports turn away from the beginner loop down a slightly rutted fire road, I am descending with less than usual caution.
Actually, I am just descending at a new "fun" speed. I'm already quite mud-spattered (without carrying significant accumulation) so the puddles don't bother me. Whee! Gaining on Mark. Hoppity splash splash. Down the "Charcoal" trail, long and pretty straight, I see only a little kid between us. Shoving the boy aside in my road/roid rage, I, no, wait, I just politely passed him when he ran out of gas on a little hill. Bearing down on Mark now, but getting really close to the finish.
I'm on his wheel coming through the last little flat puddle part, but he knows I am there, and I can't quite get around. This turns into a full-on sprint through the loose rocks into the finish gate, but I still just can't quite get around and settle for second place by about a half-second. Mark seems surprised that I was sprinting with him - maybe I should show him a thing or two next time I bring Eddy over to Boise. As for my final excuses, I didn't want to risk a shift and I definitely didn't want to go down in that rock field right before the finish.
Rich shows up eight minutes later, also not pursuing the optimal training program apparently, and we suck down All-Sports until it begins to coldly rain (pretty much immediately) whereupon I go into the finish tent and horn in on the propane heater. Ahh. When the rain is over my bike is slightly cleaner but the Avocet 40 is showing test-pattern. Supposed to be waterproof? It worked fine through the race in the mud, but a gentle rain...well, maybe not all that gentle, I was in the tent and very happy there.
Clean up as much as possible, load bike in car, wait for awards. Oooh, another set of yellow brake pads. Which don't fit my V-brakes. But I now have quite a collection of second-place medals.
Sunday I decide not to race the downhill (why get muddy again, in wet clothes no less) but work instead, running the computer to input start and finish times. I am allowed to do this pretty much by myself, with one other person confirming finish order and one writing down start times from Ron at the top. Where it snowed, by the way, as I sat by the heater in the tent. Heh heh heh.
Supposed to get paid for this labor, will see about that when I go to Wendover this weekend. It seems I am the only one "qualified" to run the computer now that Ronda has decided to get out of race operations and back to racing, and Monica who was in theory going to watch and learn sort of didn't instead.