I had a pretty fantastic race. The conditions were nearly perfect for my strengths: chaos and ceaseless pedaling.
The week’s rain had squished the dairy dirt into a wonderfully slippery, ropy, tenacious goo; the race organizers had stabilized the goo in many places with straw, forming a kind of adobe. For much of the race it felt like I was being fwapped with whips of mud, and it took the better part of an hour to clean off the bike. (My body, amazingly, was largely mud-free.) Mud like this says “never stop”, because any loss of momentum means washing out, bogging down, or slipping into a rut from which there is no escape.
Despite all of which, I did not crash.
So the mud meant ceaseless pedaling, as did the two longish climbs the course inflicted on us. Of course, in deep sticky mud you can’t stand to mash your pedals, so I geared way down and spun. The bigger riders — who usually eat my lunch on deep mud and technical stuff — had to put everything into those climbs, so they spent their pavement time recovering. Which meant lots of opportunities to attack.
I spent the entire race passing other riders. As far as I can recall, after Lap 1 no rider who passed me (with one exception) did not, at some point, get passed in return.
On Lap 4 I began to pick off Open Cat C riders (they started about 20sec ahead of the 35+ Cs). I paid close attention to numbers and realized, by the back half of the lap, that I could only see one Master C rider ahead of me (#766, Terry Campbell). The wild notion that I might be contending for first place put Power Juice straight into my legs and I tore through the last technical section in the tiny infield. I passed #766 here but just before the finish he jumped me and squeaked in by a wheel. #766 and I bumped fists and congratulated each other.
The riders immediately around us poured in and we broke the race down. A couple of guys congratulated me: “where did you find all that strength in the last lap? I couldn’t touch you.” Between that and delusions of second place, I was feeling pretty awesome.
Then I rounded the outbuilding and saw the real race leaders cleaning their bikes. The shape of the course is such that you can see through the infield to the finish; the fact that I couldn’t see any of those guys suggests they were 20+ sec. ahead of the rest of the field. Still, I thought I might be Top 10 and score some series points.
Sadly, no. I did however finish 17 of 69, my best result ever.