Race 4 – 2011 Charlotte Winter Short Track Series

I was hoping for a good day on the mountain bike after last weeks successful race.  The racers were sure that the course was going to be a wreck as it rained pretty much all of Friday and most of Saturday morning.

I was able to get to the course a little earlier than normal and actually get about 25 minute warm up with some sprints to get the legs going.  They were a little sore because I reffed two lacrosse games in Chapel Hill on Saturday.  But I did feel good in the warm up.

The race started about the same except for some excitement right at the start. One rider didn’t hold his line and took out Sonny, my teammate.  I don’t know how many people were affected, but I was in the right place and entered the woods in 3rd place behind two American Classic riders.  They played it smart and on the second lap the rider in 2nd let a gap build for his teammate.  The fun started on the 3rd lap.   We quickly gained on the ‘younger’ sport group and I was passed by one rider in our group and ended up getting into the woods behind them and 4 riders from the 19-39 group.  Jamie let me pass him in and I was rolling along with the group, frustrated because I had to stay on the brakes when I got lazy. 

One of the left hand turns is off-camber, fairly sharp and turns uphill.  I let my front wheel wander about two inches off the trail and down I went.  My left knee hurt instantly.  I got up quickly and let Jamie go by. Got back on my bike with my handlebars slightly off kilter.  I didn’t lose much time and caught Jamie as we started the climb out of the woods. Once on the gravel road I passed the group and tried to get back into a good rhythm and  check my wounds.  The knee hurt and my arm warmer was above my elbow so I fixed the arm warmer and put my head down.  The kneed quickly started to feel better – or at least not hurt so much.

I lost sight of the rider in 3rd place.  I just kept riding as hard as I could.  I managed to get a lap or two through the woods without anyone in front of me and was able to get 3rd place back in sight.  I was doing my best to try to make up ground but was red lined every time we came up the hill by the ball fields. 

On the pavement, I could clearly see 3rd place and felt like I was making up a little time every lap.  Neal was yelling to catch him, my buddy John was handing my water bottle each lap told me that the riders in 2nd and 3rd place were hurting.  

Finally Neal said two laps to go and I went as hard as I could.  I caught some lapped riders but they let me by pretty quickly so they didn’t hold me up.  I kept hoping for a repeat of last week when the guys up front would bobble or blow up.  Unfortunately it didn’t happen this week.  I could see 3rd place all the way to the finish but couldn’t catch up and was probably 10 seconds behind him at the finish.

I went as hard as I could, recovered from the crash, and ended up 4th.   I really wanted to do better, but that’s mountain bike racing.  Pretty sore today (Monday) and am looking forward to the last raced of the series next week.

Wish me luck.

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