I was not very optimistic when driving to the 2nd race at Fort Ord. I had missed the first race because I got a pretty bad cold that destroyed my throat and still felt the lasting effects 3 weeks later at race 2. On top of that, when I raced at CCCX at Fort Ord, my lower back started to hurt like crazy on around the second lap, and I was worried that racing at Fort Ord once more would hurt my back again. So yeah, I was not expecting to be at my best and get a good placement in race 2.
During the pre ride though I was actually surprised by the course and thought it was pretty nice and better than the CCCX laps. This gave me a little hope at least and I was a bit more excited for the race now. When we arrived on race day at like 8, since varsity went last at 2, we had a lot of waiting to do. After a lot of watching and cheering on our other team mates, it was finally time for varsity.
With each second during the 30 second countdown, I became a bit more anxious, and then after the last second, we all shot forward, beginning our race. Unfortunately, right after starting I got blocked by someone in front of me and had to come to pretty much a complete stop. This put me in around second to last place, but I continued and tried to advance my position. Eventually, I actually passed a bunch of people and came right up behind Finn after around ⅕ of the first lap. This gave me some hope since I didn’t think I would see Finn or the front pack during the race and I tried to keep up the pace.
Around halfway through the second lap though, the gap between me and Finn grew larger as I would soon lose him. On the bright side though, there was only one other person that was near me, with a pretty substantial gap behind me. We continuously passed each other trying to get ahead, but eventually he pulled ahead. However, by the end of this lap my initial fears were realized as my lower back was starting to hurt again. From then on, the pain of my back would often slow me down more than the tiredness of riding.
Thankfully though, I was able to keep my place, but near the end of the third lap on a right turn there was tape missing and I accidentally went straight, getting lost. I stopped for like ten seconds wondering what to do because the trail I was on looked pretty similar to the other ones, but just decided to make a decision and kept going down the trail. I just decided to take the penalty rather than waste time since I wasn’t really anywhere near the lead. I ended up in a random parking lot and tried to find my way back to the trail, and eventually I did. I thought I might have skipped some of the climbing because I could see the person I was frequently passing again, and was able to catch up to them and pass them for the final time. I think I might have been able to pass them even if I didn’t get lost, because I dropped them during the fourth lap.
On the final lap though, besides my back still hurting and me being pretty tired, everything was going pretty good. Unfortunately, during the fourth lap my legs started cramping when I would stand up to pedal hard. This also made me a bit slower, but I pushed through it and when I neared the final climb, I gave it my all and sprinted to the finish line, finishing in a place much better than what I was expecting, being 16th. I was also only one spot behind Finn so that serves as an incentive to catch up to him in future races. All in all though, the 2nd race of this season was pretty fun, and while there were a few drawbacks for me, I was happy with the outcome and had a great time.