The second Tailwind USAC race of 2008 was last Sunday at Bloomer up in Rochester. The loop was just over 6 miles long and my Expert Class would be doing it four times. From what I heard the course was in great shape and ready to be taken advantage of. I had never raced there before but I got some information about the course from a few fellow riders. U-Dog, Hollywood, Tank and I all came out early due to our start times being close to 10 AM. Captain Terror and Bushwacker made it there to see us off.
Jeff and I started out a couple sets behind the Elites. I was sportin' the new race attire we got that morning but Jeff decided to do one more race in the old drabs since he already had it on.....superstition. At the start Jeff took off with the pack leaders as I expected him to. I tried to get myself into a good mid pack position with a couple other riders I knew I could hold pace with. Things went as planned for about the first 2 miles....after that it all blew up. I was near the top 10 of the class when my chain fell off. I had to step aside and let some riders though before I could start back up again. I spent the next half mile playing catch up only to have it happen again. I was starting to get frustrated. I got the chain back on and was trying to figure out my issue while I was trying to navigate a trail I had never been on before. Well about a mile later it happened again. Every time I had put myself back in the chase only to have my chain fall off again. Now I was in last and way back from the pack.
I still had about a mile and a half and could see a few riders a bit ahead of me on one of the long straights along the river. I talked myself into mounting another attack and took off only to have my chain slip fo the 4th time about 5 minutes later. By then my head was out of the game and I was ready to call it quits. I rode the last mile easy so the chain would stay on and I pulled into the pit after my first lap and called it quits. Gerry and Meghan were there and Gerry was trying to figure out how to get me back on the course. I told him my issue and said I can't race this bike today. So he got his Epic and said just go out on this to at least finish the race. But after we got it ready to race we found out I had the wrong cleats in my shoes to ride it and quit honstly the geometry felt wrong. Since he had me all fired up to go back out I told him to run back to his car and get his XTC. This bike had only been test ridden about 400 yards before down the street in front of his house. It wasn't complete and not ready to race. So we spent a few minutes getting it race ready including swapping parts from my bike onto it.
As I took off on it I realized I had a lot of work to do. The bike was a completely different set up than mine and I was in last.......my lap time was 9 minutes higher than I had planned it to be. So mentally I went into pursuit mode. I had done this before last year after a big crash in a race I wanted to win. I knew the frame of mind I had to be in. I refused to finish last. All I had to do was hunt down at least one person in my class. Plus Ashton's kid race started at 12:30 and I told him I'd be there for it. Can't let my son down.
I spent the next lap riding hard and pushing the limits on a bike that had never been on the trail before. Not the brightest idea but I had somewhere to be at 12:30. I felt I was making up ground. I started passing riders from other classes that started after mine. I knew I was getting closer. The third lap I ran into more traffic so I had to check up in a few spots and wait for room to pass. Finally by the last lap I had caught some people from my class and I wasn't in last anymore. I grinded out the 4th lap and ended up with a negative split from my third so I was happy with that. In the end I had made up a few spots and still managed to finish 14th out of 17. Sure it would have been nice to place in 8th or 9th like I wanted to but at least I finished with some points instead of a DNF.
Jeff ended up running a heck of a race. He finished 5th in our class but most impressive was his 8th overall in Expert. Seems we have all the speed in our class. Great riding Jeff!
Heather took home 4th and Dawn wasn't far behind finishing 6th in the Expert/Elite Women's class. Our chics are fast.
The Captain put in a solid performance and finished 7th out of 12 in his class. Not bad for an old guy.
And last the kids, Zak and Ash. They both did the 2 lap kid course and did the whole race without any help from the dad's. Zak has been off training wheels for almost a year but it was Ashton's first race without them. He did awesome! I am so proud of him.
In the end, I have some work to do on my bike. Luckily I don't race again until June so I have some time to test a few things to fix my bike.