Iíve always heard that racing builds character. Well it was true this weekend.
Saturday morning Steve and I jumped in his mini and headed to Logan Ohio to the Hocking Hills race. It was supposed to be about 65 degrees and sunny at home. However, we decided we didnít want to ride in nice weather, we wanted to go to Ohio. The weather at the race was miserable, rain in the upper 40ís. Just about the toughest weather to dress for.
Anyway, the course was supposed to be a pretty good climbing course. It was two 18 mile laps with the second lap being cut short totalling 34 miles for us 4/5 guys and the guys racing open / old mens class like Steve. We registered, got dressed, all that good stuff. About 1:00 we lined up. The fast guys (p/1/2/3ís) got a police escort. As did the 3/4ís. Us poor cat 4/5ís and everyone else were left to fend for ourselves. We were told that the course was perfectly marked though and we would have no problems.
The race started off pretty normal. A decent pace, nothing too difficult though. About six or seven miles into the first lap we hit a climb. It seemed to catch a lot of people off gaurd since people were dropping their chains and / or coming off their bikes all over the place. I started the climb in the wrong spot, second from the back. By the time I figured out what was going on I was zigging and zagging around people and trying to keep from losing traction in all of the cinders.
By the time I reached the top of the climb I saw a five man breakaway containing three teamates. I also saw a four man chase group about 100 - 150 yards in front of me. I busted my ass for about three miles and finally caught onto the chase group. Once there I just hung out at the bike trying to regain consciousness. We continued to chase for about four or five miles.
We finally came around a corner and there was the breakaway that had been about 30 - 45 seconds ahead of us. They were just setting there riding in little circles with their hands up. We had come to a cross roads and there were absolutely no signs. None of us had a clue where to go. Finally a truck pulled up and I asked him how to get to the cliffs. He told us the quickest way was to take a left. We took off.
About five or six miles later we found another car and asked them directions, a few miles later we stopped at a house and asked them directions. Keep in mind we were the ten ďleadersĒ and we were all completely lost. Needless to say none of us were all that happy. The nasty weather was not helping the situation.
We continued on and finally found a road that would take us back to the cars. We did the final climb and a couple of the guys went all out, some of us just kind of sat back. It ended up eight of us finishing pretty much together. As we crossed the line we had done 34 miles. The race official said ďone lap to goĒ. We all just looked at him.
About half an hour later Steve came in. He had been in a completely different group. He ended up doing a 32 mile first lap. Slacker!!! While he was out there he came across other people that were lost from the faster groups. They had been with the escort the first lap but then got dropped on the second lap. Even though they had done the lap once already they still got lost. Needless to say, the court markings were lacking.
Anyway, I contacted the promoter (Tym Tyler). He told me that the course was marked as well as any other race out there, plus it was our responsibility to know the course. He said we were just going too hard and we missed the turn. I could understand this if I was local. Unfortunately driving 200 - 400 miles a weekend to race itís sort of hard to know all of the course.
Oh well, at least I have an experience to remember and I got to ride around lost for a while with some nice guys.
To everyone that actually finished the race, you deserve a great big congratulations. Not only for your riding skills but also for being able to navigate the sea (or road or whatever it was).