Track position is King! The big difference between the Sport class and the Comp class is in Sport if you take the hole shot, they'll give it to you! No way a single speeder should be leading the group into the trail, but that's what I did. I wanted to be sure that the only guys in front of me when we hit the climbs were strong riders, and it (mostly) worked.
I couldn't hold them off forever, and went into the single track about 10th wheel. Pretty soon things got messy as we caught the Wave 1 young fellas about a mile in. From that point it was difficult to tell if I was passing rider from my wave or the wave ahead, but I knew that any single speeds I passed were gold. There were some aggressive passes going on and I saw two guys rub bars on Dynamite Road and go down hard!
I was fortunate to make some good passes going up the climbs on Turf and recover behind some guys keeping good pace. I think it was here that I caught and passed Brandon from Tuxedo Thunder on his single speed.
3 Ravines was the typical bottle neck at the second ravine where there were 3 abreast stopped at the top of the climb. A little preseason cyclocrossin' got me another couple places as everyone had to dismount.
Eric and I had surmised that the new trail connecting to Out'n'Back would be good passing, but I actually found it pretty tough, mainly due to the long train of riders dragging their brakes on the off camber corners. Even if you could get buy, there was no where to tuck back in. Despite this I was able to make a number of tough passes. I knew I was coming up on about 3/4 of the way through the race and soon we'd turn up Burrito Hill and then out to the two track. I pretty much figured it was a sprint to the finish from there.
Perhaps I was thinking too far ahead, or was just a little oxygen deprived, but as I passed a tree my left pedal caught on a root and before I knew what happened I was over the bars on the ground. Immediately 3 riders went passed. I got untangled and back to my feet and 2 more went buy. I tried to remount but noticed that handlebars were about 90* from the correct direction! Just then a train of about 10 riders zoomed by. A few choice words may have found their way from my mouth. I was about to give in. All that hard work!! As calmly as I could I found my bike tool, adjusted my bars, took care to tighten them down and remounted. As I went to grab for my brakes I found no levers! Fortunately they too had just turned out of position. Another quick stop and I was back on course. I figure I had let at least 20 hard fought passes go by..
A combination of aches, crash fear, and frustration really took the wind out of my sails. Fortunately there were a few riders within reach for me to slowly work my way up to and begin finding my pace again. By the time we got out to the two track I began recognizing guys that I had passed on Out'n'Back. I put the hammer down and just went as hard as I could.
As we wound our way toward the two track that leads up the back side of the hill overlooking Bullfrog Lake I spotted Brandon again! I new I had to get ahead of him for the single speed race. As soon as the trail started to go up hill I drilled it and picked up two more spots.
I erroneously assumed that from the top of this climb we would be sent down the grassy hill berms to the bottom and back up to the finish. I had planned to recover on the berms, but instead we were sent left and back into the woods toward the new (old) Half Acre trail. No disrespect to our namesake or those that built this section, but it was HELL on a rigid single speed!! I did not know if anyone was on my heels, but if they had been I would have been chum in the water. Fortunately, no one came around me, but as I hit the bottom of the finish climb I just put my head down and nailed it one more time. I figured I stop when I hit people in the shoot!!
It was a really good hour effort and has gotten me excited for cross season! Next year I will put my big boy pants on and come prepared to race the Comp class again.
Thanks to Amy, Mike, Jacob, Eric, and Jennah and everyone that was out there cheering!!
-Mike (Soupy) C.