Photos of all races can be found here
Race Results can be found here
Oh yeah, there was sand....The Evolution continues and hit a high point at the first race of the season. I've got enough candles on my UCI birthday cake to race in a new category and although only five had signed up when pre registration ended twenty six men with grey stubble lined up Sunday.
The mostly grass course had three distinct sand sections the first of which could be ridden if there wasn't anyone in front of you that bailed. The second might have been ridable if not for the hundreds of guys in front of you who chewed it up and the last section, which was the longest had to be run. The abundance of running played to my strengths as if they had wanted me to win.
Even old men attack the start as if they are being shot at. I found myself about fifteenth a minute in and when we hit the first sand I rode about 70% before someone in front of me went sideways and down. I jumped off and ran.
I made up ground on the second sand pit and I was at the back of a line of about six just behind two riders were away up front. In the final sand pit on the first lap I gained a couple places and then gained a bit more over the balance of the course.
I rode the first sand on the second and subsequent laps and spotted Cosmic Miller who is a fast guy just ahead of me. I was shocked. I've been chasing this guy since 2005 and I've never beaten him. I stayed on his wheel until we hit the final sand pit on the second lap and passed him there.
We traded places back and forth on the next lap and then I saw El Pirate putting his chain back on and we rode together for a few seconds before he pulled ahead seeking to claim his rightful podium.
On the fourth lap I could hear Big John cheering and telling me I was in about seventh position. Cosmic made a wide turn and went off course and I think the thought that I was around him made him realize what a bad day he was having and he just took it easy the rest of the race.
I may be good at running sand; that doesn't mean I like it.I caught another rider in the sand and on the last lap I was redlined but knew I had something special going so I refused to let up and picked off another rider in the sand. It appeared there were two more ahead of him with the same salmon colored numbers we old men were sporting. I caught one of the two right away and then after crossing some loose pave I passed the second and hit the barriers hot. I could feel the end was near and kept on it full gas and when I looked back in the finishing straight I had enough of a gap to let up the last fifty meters.
A racer feeding the hipposI ended up taking third and El Pirate was second on the day. There were three more riders within fifteen seconds behind me so my late suffering paid off. I don't expect the same kind of finish on other courses, but I made the podium this day and for a week or two I shall revel in that glory. My training plan seems to be helping and I did a lot of things different this day and that seemed to work as well. It has been four years since I was on a podium and I am pretty excited. I don't need a new helmet for my inflated head just yet, but the season is just getting started..