The day started off like my typical race day, up at 7:00 am and made some oatmeal. Eat up, relax a little then fix three scrambled eggs. The eggs will be eaten two hours before the race. This seems to work for me.
I took a look outside, what was I thinking? The creeks were up, my yard was flooded, it was cold. Would have been a perfect day to just stay on the couch, drink some hot chocolate and watch a few movies. Oh well, I'm to stubborn for that, I'm going racin'!
I checked all the bolts on my bike, sprayed it down with pam one more time then loaded it up. Checked to make sure I had everything then headed up the road to Parkersburg WV for the first WVMBA race of the year. This is my first mountain bike race of the year as well and it is going to be nasty!
I get to the race, register, then talked to some friends for a while. It was amazing how muddy and cold this place was. It was around 35 degrees and the ground was saturated from three days of rain. After I relaxed and caught up with friends for a while I jump on the trainer to get warmed up for the noon start. Once I'm about 15 - 20 minutes into my warm up I find out that the course has been changed and that the start has been delayed. Great, grumble, grumble.......
I get off of the trainer and relax for a little while longer. About half hour later I get back on the trainer for about 15 minutes. I think I'm ready, however my toes and fingers are already going numb. That's not good!
I head over to the racers meeting, find out everything we need to know about the course then head over to the start line. I was able to get a spot on the front row which was my goal. This way I can at least be up front once during the day.
The pro / experts take off. Then the junior experts, women's experts and single speeds take off. We (men's sport) are next. We're off.......
The pace started off pretty hard and I was setting around fifth place when we hit the gravel turn where I lost traction and almost came off of the bike. I was able to save it and kept going. I was now around seventh place. I kept going and passing one person then another and another. A minute later I was in the lead. I was able to get about a minute or so lead on second place by the time we hit the singletrack. Awesome! Unfortunately I suspected the lead was only temporary since I've only been on the mountain bike three times this year and none of that was in nasty mud like this.
The only downside so far is that I found out that I am basically riding a three speed. I caught a stick in my derailleur on Tuesday bending the derailleur hanger. I straightened it up as much as I could and thought I would be fine. Apparently I was wrong. There were only three gears in the back that I could ride in. This proved to be a bit of a challenge but I got used to it. Up front I stayed in my middle ring just about the whole race. I never went to the granny, there was no use. If I would have gone to granny I would have just spun out anyway. I did go to the big ring a couple of times, but not for very long.
I was immediately impressed with my bike set up, especially the tires. Those Schwalbe Nobby Nics are the best tire I have ever been on in conditions like this. I actually felt like I had some control, which on a day like this was very impressive. I ran them at 37 psi front, 39 psi rear and it felt perfect! I was able to go over roots and rocks that I normally would have just spun on or slid off. I could get used to this being in control stuff! I also want to give props to Optic Nerve glasses. As nasty as it was they never did fog up, awesome!
After about nine miles (of the 17) I was caught by the now first place sport rider. It wouldn't have been so bad but he was on a singlespeed! He was flying! I maintained second place for a few more miles but I was caught by another rider, actually three other riders. Bummer! About this time we were on a nasty downhill and the guy right in front of me went off course and almost crashed. Well, this distracted me just enough to cause me to follow his line, only I didn't "almost crash". I crashed! Over the bars, bummer! It wasn't bad though, I just jumped right back on the bike and took off, only lost about 15 seconds.
After that I traded positions with a few experts but nothing to exciting. I was basically in survival mode which I believe is where pretty much everyone was at this point. I suffered through the rest of the race and ended up finishing fifth place in the Men's sport 19 - 34 class. This was also an OMBC race which had me in the vet 31 - 40 class. I believe I probably had a top three (possibly first) place finish in this class. I'll find out for sure once it is posted.
The race ended up being 17.1 miles and according to a buddy of mine's GPS we did 3,337 feet of climbing. No wonder I'm hurting today.
Anyway, congratulations to everyone that was brave (or dumb) enough to come out and participate in this race. In my opinion, no matter how you finished it was a victory to just cross the finish line!