(may 2, 2012)
My second race of the Charlotte Summer Mountain Bike Series was at Renaissance Park in Charlotte, NC. The course at Renni is a lot different from N. Meck. It’s longer and more technical, a lot more technical. It also uses most of the Winter Short Track Series Short Track Course.
Andy and I took the Cool Breeze Cyclery van down to the race. It was hot and we decided a warm up wasn’t necessary!
I started in the 2nd row of the Super Sport Class. I figured I would be ok as the group usually bunches up at the top as it enters the single track. As fate would have it, I missed my pedal when the race start so panic immediately follows. We start at the bottom of the large climb so I kept pedaling and was able to finally click in.
We hit the single track and my first thought was….holy cow we are flying. I was behind my teammate Andy. I was fairly relaxed and was remembering the course from the previous year. Unfortunately, Andy wasn’t as familiar with the course.
There is a slight right turn than leads directly into a 4′ drop followed by a hard left turn. Andy hit it way too fast and was airborne, got knocked to his top tube and washed out in front of me. He hit the ground hard but said he was ok so I kept going.
It’s pretty shocking how fast the group can get away when you have to stop. I caught a rider at the beginning of the large climb (where we started) and was able to see the last of the lead group turning off the top of the hill. That meant I was probably 45 seconds behind after half a lap and I’m guessing I was in 8th or 9th place.
All I could do was keep my head down and go as hard as I could. The good news is that hills weren’t as difficult as I remembered. I backed off slightly on the steeper stuff so that I wouldn’t burn up too much energy.
I didn’t see anyone until we hit the parking lot straight to start the 2nd lap. I was chasing the guy in front of me when we passed a Live-It-Extreme team racer on the side of the trail from the lead group. I was able to pass the guy I was chasing as he pulled himself out of the woods after he crashed.
The L.I.E. guy seemed like he was catching me. It was frustrating because I didn’t want to get caught and I backed off a little in the technical section because being a little slower was probably actually a little faster. We hit the long climb and I just set a real steady pace. There was one rider about 3/4 of the way up the climb so I figured I was making up some time.
I entered the 2nd half of the lap and was able to quickly catch two guys and pass them. I never saw them again. The 2nd guy hung with me for a minute or two then had to back off. I didn’t know how far behind the lead group I was so I just kept telling myself to keep going hard because you never know what will or could happen in a Mtn. Bike Race.
I caught John Cates and for some reason he let me by. It felt like John was right on my wheel so I kept the pace as high as I could. When we exited the woods, I looked behind me and John wasn’t there. I didn’t have to sprint to the finish like I was prepared to do.
I finished 4th and was a minute behind the leader and 45 seconds behind 3 place. So I’m figuring we rode the 2nd lap at about the same pace. Maybe I just need a better start to stay with the leaders. It’s good to have a goal!