Doing it all the hard way...

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Whilst driving to today’s race my son called from Russia. It was good to hear from him. He had some secret squirrel stuff in the states this week and he said he took the opportunity to buy twelve jars of peanut butter and took them back in his suitcase. When he asked how my season was going I told him I hadn’t had my breakthrough race yet and that maybe today was the day.

It was.

Yesterday was sunny and dry. They promised rain overnight and they delivered. The rain had almost completely tapered off when Hottie and I rolled south in the fully loaded war wagon. It got wetter and darker the further south we went.

The course was a combination of wet grass and dry-ish dirt. Both were getting rutted and guys were slipping even during warm ups. Despite my poor performance in the first race in the series I got a second row call up. I wasn’t feeling fast and while waiting for the start I looked behind me and imagined all of the guys behind me passing me. We had almost 60 racers in my category.

At the gun I tried to stay about tenth. After a couple fast straights we had the grass zigzags that Steilacom is famous for. I had the right tire pressure and I relaxed and rode them well, defending my position. I thought to myself, “Man I’m relaxed and not cooking myself now.”

The other things Steilacom is famous for is the climbing. A long steady climb and I threaded my way up to about seventh. I passed Dave Farrell on my team as he was cranking a big gear and it wasn’t working for him.

I kept it going and on a loose gravel road downhill I hit 25 miles per hour. Then around trees and another climb. I leaned back and let it go on a choppy downhill that led to a paved road where I again topped 20 mph. I grabbed the brakes hard and they slowed me better than I was expecting. A couple of loose corners and a second set of barriers, and I was back to the start finish line.

I held my position the whole second lap and we just stretched out. The switchbacks gave me a chance to see who was around me. I had two guys chasing me and I kept pushing. A light mist had turned into a steady rain and my glasses fogged up, so I pulled them off and stuck them in my jersey.

On the last lap I noted one of my group putting his chain back on and he jumped back in right ahead of me. I followed him and we were working our way through the lapped riders. With the long climb almost done I spotted my nemesis from last year, Francisco Pons, looking at his bike in disbelief. After the race he would show me his sideways derailleur and shrug his shoulders. I felt guilty, but I picked up another place. Coolness.

I was sitting eighth and had guys chasing me. I got out of the saddle and pounded it up the last climb and turned and put on the power. Down on the grass with only a couple turns and the barriers to the finish line, Dave Farrell caught me. I had been pushing and was shocked anyone caught me. I bobbled a corner and Dave had enough of a gap and he took eighth and I got ninth.

My first top ten and they haven‘t upgraded anybody yet...

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