The opening race of the 2010 race season for me has come and gone. I am about 90% happy with how things turned out as I knew I wasn’t going to contend for the win I just really wanted to sustain a hard effort for a long as I could and turn the screws as I went along hopefully within 8-10 minutes back of the winner, but that did not happen.
The pre-ride on Saturday gave an early indication of what to expect in regards to the number of riders hitting the course on Sunday and I am glad I got there before the start of the sport race as I had one of the last remaining spots in the parking lot. Around 850 racers toed the line that day and I also heard that 70 Elite riders had a series plate already in addition, over 100 Elite men were to toe the line at the start of the Belgioso Pro/Cat1 series.
I found out early on and reflected hours later that my best races, and races I’ve won were because of start position and placing before the trail tightens up. I know it’s common knowledge, but year after year I get either a terrible start or get stuck behind some slower traffic while the leaders smoothly ride away.
My first race of the year was no different. I picked a bad place to start and got caught up in a mess and watched all of my friends speed off in joy and glee to the first right hand corner going up to the ski jump and again another mess in the little sand box at the top. At this point I got shuffled back quite a bit and spent a good deal of the first lap trying to see if I could gain what I’ve lost and really the only thing I lost on the first lap was a lot of energy. The second lap was not any different, but the third lap I could see a large group of people including Jesse and Nate along with about 3 or 4 more guys and as I drop down into the second half of the 3rd lap I end up losing my second full bottle. Not cool, I had to stop on the start of the 4th lap to get whatever I could and Paul was able to help a brother out.
The fourth and fifth laps were kind of a blur as I was pretty mad at this point and my lower back was killing me. I did catch a couple more riders and had Nate in my sights until a stick got caught in his spokes and wouldn’t be able to see him again for the remainder of the race. I rolled in towards the bottom of the results page and 19 minutes back of Tristan, but cut 10 minutes off my 2008 elite time and gained 5 minutes on the winner so that was the encouraging part of the day.
10 things I’ve learned….
1. Earn the call up and pick a more strategic place to start. Not just any place will do. Look for the line of fast racers in the best position to maneuver the first series of corners and obstacles this can make a difference between a top 20 or bottom 5.
2. Kill the lower back issue and get a riser bar already. (done)
3. Have an extra bottle waiting just in case.
4. Racing is fun, but you can have fun and be aggressive at the same time.
5. I’m not pro, this is a hobby. Train by yourself and ride with your friends
6. I have to be more aggressive on the starts. I’ve put in the time and the effort to compete it’s a matter of just shutting up and doing it.
7. I have been racing for about 6 years…I still have room to improve on technical riding skills.
8. Remember, everybody out there is in just about the same amount of pain. What am I going to do about it?
9. Who cares about how many hours you spend on the bike. Quality trumps quantity.
10. The conditions are never going to be perfect and races don’t always go as planned. Just keep pedaling circles and let the smile on your face do the talking.
This weekend is the WEMS series opener in Green Bay at the Stump Farm 12 and without a doubt will be going 12 solo again. Rain and snow in the forecast with temps around 50 at best with rain the night before will make things interesting. This is going to be a tough early season test for equipment setup, the mind, and keeping on a regimen in regards to nutrition is always tough as we tend not to ingest as much as we should because of the rain and cold. History would show that these are typically conditions found at the Underdown WEMS race and I’ve usually had good luck there when healthy, so this should be right up my alley. Race report to follow after I thaw out from racing in these conditions.