Yup, it sucked. Glad I raced because in a month I've got a race on my turf that I want to do good in. It was a short 3.5 mile loop that we did 3 times.
I didn't like the course because I couldn't figure out how to keep my momentum up. You would go on these really long inclines that weren't steep, but they'd just wear you out, then it would dump you down a really steep downhill that had softball to basketball sized loose rocks scattered everywhere. You went up some of these steep hills too, but the slight uphills just went forever. The forest had just recently been burned, so it was like you were riding through hell or something. Except it was cold. Maybe I jinxed myself by saying it would be a cold day in hell before I race again when I got disappointed at the last 18 mile race I was in.
I had just bought new tires on Saturday, got they Ritchey semi-treads that had a bunch of little scoop shaped knobs in them. They're great for hardpack that's somewhat flat, but I slid all over the place when I'd hit some mud, and I had to stay seated on the hills or else I'd easily lose traction, but I guess other people and tires had the same problem.
We started up this slight incline and went for about a quarter mile, then it turned into asphalt. We all got alot of speed on this part, then hit the woods, but there was rocks, then a creek crossing, all on singletrack with all these riders funneling into, so you had to slow down. This fat boy decided he wouldn't slow down and just cut through the woods about 5 yards to the left of everybody. He realized that the creek/ditch was too deep, and that he had to get on the crossing, so he swerves over, running into the side of one guy. I assume he locked up his brakes and hit the mud on the side of the creek, because his whole bike got turned sideways, and I ran into him and hurt my finger and was completely stopped.
Being sick this past week definitely didn't help. I thought I was over it, but within a few minutes of pedaling hard, I started coughing up fluids from my lungs, which continued the entire race. My nose was running bad, and I've got snot all over my handlebars. I just couldn't breathe, I was short of breath the entire way.
Most of the riders weren't really good, I just couldn't keep up on the slight uphill sections. Alot of people were walking up the steep hills, and locking up their brakes on the downhills, and coasting on the flat asphalt or hardpack sections, and I'd just blow by people on these parts, or at least do some serious damage to their lead on me, but I just got smoked on these long uphills. I've always not been very good at endurance sports, so combine that with being sick and having a heavy bike, I guess that is to be expected.
The race coordinators did a very good job. They had breakfast burritos for you after you finished. The entry fee wasn't bad at $20. The P/A system sounded clean, and they kept everybody halfway entertained by announcing who was coming up through the woods. It's the OGRE people at www.stlbiking.com.
Unfortunately nobody seemed to mind littering. Maybe this is normal at a race, but I was surprised to see so people throw empty GU packs and water bottles down on the trail.