I entered the cross country race a couple weekends ago at Sycamore Canyon for Races and Chasers, the local San Diego MTB races. I pre-registered, and decided to enter the age group instead of the clyde group. The beginner 30-39 group gets more entries than the clydes, and I'm going to try and do 3 of the 4 of their winter series. This was the first.
The route was advertised as 1-1/2 laps, about 10 miles total. Shortly after I arrived and parked, it started raining. Since I was pre-registered, I decided to go for it. Because of the rain, they shortened it to one lap, about 6-1/2 miles. We were the third wave to start. Here's a picture before the start, I am not in this shot.
At the start, I hung back a little on purpose. This was my 3rd MTB race, the first one on my hardtail and my first one in the rain. I figured better safe than sorry. From the parking lot, we started out on a very rocky, rolling trail. I did good, and after starting out began to work past some riders. Up the second hill, all the riders in front of me dismounted and started walking up the hill, so I had no choice but to do the same, there was no room to go around them.
I continued on, and on the downhill section passed quite a few riders. After a flat section, I dropped the chain off the little ring before a short climb, and lost a few spots. After getting going again, I got those spots back. I continued on trying to balance agressiveness with caution.
With about 1 mile to go, we turned onto a fire road that climbed back up to the parking lot where we started. The road was totally mud. Couldn't even ride, the mud packed up the tires and locked them from turning. So for about 3/4 of a mile uphill it was a foot race pushing/carrying your bike. I think I might have had an advantage here, watching some of the smaller guys try to carry their mud laden full suspension bike up a hill, they were really struggling. I passed a few people trudging up in the mud.
Got to the top, cleaned out the big clumps of mud from behind the tires, and did my best to ride over the finish line. Here's a couple shots as I crossed the finish line.
That's the race organizer, he was out there cheering us on. Here's a shot after a couple minutes to catch my breath.
I ended up 3rd out of 6 in my age group, just under 2 minutes behind 1st place. I was jazzed, since I was actually mixing it up with people, not just left in the dust like last time.
It was lots of fun, but lots of work to clean that bike! I guess it's officially broken in now.