When was the last time you said thank you to your laundry machine? I did it last night. It's amazing how you can put such dirty, filthy, smellified stuff in there, press a couple buttons and poof it all comes out clean in just about an hour.
Some days, like yesterday, I wish I could have fit my bike into that front load washer. I started cleaning and lubing my bike when I threw my race clothes in and by the time the spin cycle was over my bike was clean. Thank you again Washing Machine.
Jeff and I pulled up to park right next to Heather at about 8:30 AM, an hour and a half before the start of the race. I was still not believing what I was seeing. It was April 13th and it was snowing and 32 degrees out. I hadn't regsitered yet and was having serious second thoughts. My decision was made when I got out of the van and realized I would be warmer racing than I would be standing around watching. After a few minutes of chatting with Hollywood and Tank we found out we were the only 3 out of a team of 12 who were going to be representing the team that day. I thought to myslef, "Whatever doesn't kill you only makes you Stranger." Straight from the Jokers mouth and he couldn't have been more right.
All three of us were cold up until we got about 10 minutes of spinning in for a warm up. What was nice is that the three of us started within 10 minutes of eachother. Jeff thought it was great to have other Expert racers on our team at the starting grid with him.
Tank (Jeff) went off first on the clock. This was a Time Trial so you lined up with only one other person at the start. In the end you race against the clock because you really have no idea how anyone else in your class is doing. Jeff said his first lap went well and he was feeling good. The second lap came down to how much chain suck you didn't have. He decided to race his GT instead of the new Giant knowing he'd be punishing whatever bike he decided to race. Like most other Experts and Elites his second lap was slower due to the trail conditions changing dramatically. On the first loop it was still snowing and accumulating on the side of the trail. By the second lap it was warm enough for the snow to melt and the trail turned to peanut butter soup. In the end he turned in some solid loops and was fast enough to finish 4th out of 13. In the Expert 30-39 Class that's a great day. That's a tough class to race in. My hats off to you Tank.
Hollywood (Heather) went off next. This was her first race in the Expert/Elite mix. There are fewer women in the upper ranks so they group them together. Age does not matter in her class. she was out there racing with the top women in the State. On the first lap she said she went right over her handlebars on what I call the cobble stone road. It's a tricky section at the bottom of a hill where you have to go over a bunch of small rocks while you are making a left turn to approach a climb. There's no way around it and it can claim the best of riders in dry conditions. The second loop she had some issues with the front skewer not staying locked. I think she said she had to get off her bike 3 times to lock in it. I think a fourth time she would have used a rock to pound it on. I had to use a screw driver to lever it off after the race.....sure you didn't use a rock Hollywood? Anyway, aside from the one way trip over the bars and her front wheel issue (talk to the guy you bought them from) she still managed to pull off 3rd place! Yes I said 3rd place. Solid performace against a tough group of women....(I got an ear full last year for calling them chics). Great job Hollywood!
Then there was me. I signed up day of thinking that I would start in the back of my class, same one Tank races in. Ends up they put my butt in the back of the entire Expert Class. Not that bad really.....if I managed to pass at least one of the girls in front of me at least I would know I beat some one in the Expert Class.
Off I went. The guy I lined up with dropped me on the first climb. These Expert guys are fast.. .. .. .. so were the girls! Kept my focus tho and started picking off the girls one by one. Took me 5 miles to catch and pass them all, including Hollywood. Was cool to see her in action. Gave a quick pep talk and off I went. I didn't catch anyone else until about 13-14 miles into the race. Was nice to finally pass some guys from my class. I was worried for a while that I was the slowest person out there and that some of the Beginner 14 and under's were going to catch me soon. In a Time Trail you could go the whole race alone and still do decent. I spent my two laps focusing on my ride and keeping the bike upright in the conditions. I figured finishing safe was job 1 but in the back of my head I wanted to finish decently in the group. I didn't hold back much and I when I got done I felt more of a sense of accomplishment than I'd ever had before racing there. Like normal I forgot to set my clock so it wasn't until the results were posted that I found out my times and the place I finished. I ended up taking 8th out of 13 riders....5 or 6 minutes behind Tank. I was more than pleased with that result because I met my true goals for the day. Later Jeff told me my first lap time was quick enough to beat the Sport 30-39 Class I would have raced in if I would have stayed in Sport. Made me feel better about my decision to move up this year.
Tank, Hollywood and I were all glad we raced and Team Signoutfitters.com was announced twice over the loud speaker during the Expert Award Ceremony, once for Heather and once for Jeff. Again, great job team! That was a first for Team Signoutfitters.com.
Last, my favoite part of the day was seeing a few faces that I hadn't seen over the long winter. Besides Jeff and Heather I got to see a few new faces I met this Spring on training rides along with a few old foes I battled it out with last year.