Sunday was the first race of the Charlotte Winter Short Track Series hosted by Charlotte Sports Cycling. Everyone was fearing cold weather but somehow Neal ordered a beautiful January day.
My race was at 12 but I arrived early to set up the Cool Breeze/Trek Bike Store Team tent with Sarah. My first mountain bike race of the day was the Sport 40+ class. I lined up on the 2nd row feeling confident that I could get a good start. I was joking with my buddy Wayne when the race started. I usually don’t have a problem getting clicked in but missed my pedal but managed to keep my momentum and eventually get clicked in before the first turn.
I entered the turn 1 and used some of my road racing experience to pass 4 or 5 guys. I took a small risk and entered the woods in about 5th place. The first lap was uneventful and I did my best to keep my heart rate under control.
I don’t remember if it was the first or 2nd lap, but coming through the start/finish line, I felt pretty good and attacked. It was too early, but I was thinking that I’d catch some lapped traffic and be able to get some time on the group. TJ from Giordana followed me and we managed to pull a good lead. TJ took the lead from there and I did everything I could to keep up with him.
TJ was super strong and was pulling away from me on the gravel road when we exited the woods. I managed to stay with him for 4 or 5 laps. He’d drop me and then I’d catch him in the woods. With 3 laps to go, he put in a big surge on the gravel road and I was toast. I did my best to hang on.
I could see a group of 3 or 4 riders chasing at the turnaround (turn 1). But thankfully I managed to hold them off for 2nd place in the race. It was a good wake-up call – the first race always is.
My second mountain bike race of the day was the Single Speed race about an hour after my first race. I was racing for fitness and started pretty easy. The SS was pretty uneventful minus my legs giving out on me on the last 3 laps coming out of the woods. I was passed by 4 of the SS riders, Justin, Jason and Bruce to name 3. These guys are super fast, I’m not sure how they go so fast on their SSs. I was also passed by two expert women. I later heard one was 19. Pretty impressive and it is a good example of how fast the women are getting.
So, 1 week down, 4 to go. 2nd in my first race and 10th in my second.