I was actually really looking forward to racing at this course after the pre ride. I thought the course was fun and suited my riding style well. So I was pretty excited, except for the fact that it was supposed to be pretty hot.
Arriving to the course on race day though, I was surprised by how windy and dusty it was. I was sure that it would slow us down a lot and in combination with the heat, it would be pretty painful. However, it actually wasn’t too hot, even after walking around and cheering on people for hours, waiting for the varsity race.
Finally, when our race was starting, I saw that me and Finn were pretty much the only varsity riders not wearing glasses for the dust, but that was just fine. And so we then started our race, and in no time at all, I underestimated how slippery the dusty trail was and fell at the top of the windy beginning section. This didn’t hurt my position too much, but then like a mile later, I fell again but harder. This put me pretty much at the back of the varsity group, so I had to play catch-up for a while to get back to my original position behind Finn.
It took me like another lap or so to catch back up, and was able to get back my position behind Finn, but then the race took an extremely weird turn. Like all of the varsity riders were staying together in one big pack, probably because no one wanted to pass the leading people because of the super strong winds. This led the entire varsity group to drop their speed to like 5 miles per hour at some points. It was so crazy, like we were just doing a bunch of sprinting sections and then resting. Pretty much all of our first three laps were extremely similar time wise, and the people in the back actually had better lap times than the people in the front. I had the third best 2nd lap time followed by two people behind me.
I was able to talk with Finn a bit about how weird this race was, and I was telling everyone I passed or who had a mechanical that they definitely could catch back up. But I knew though that it would all come down to the last lap where everyone would sprint like crazy. I started to prepare for that by not going too fast, but I was still lagging behind the main pack a bit, but I was pretty sure I would be able to catch them again since they would slow down so much at specific spots like the two sharp turns near the river at the end. And finally when I was on the last lap, everyone stayed pretty together for the first bit, but then the front people started to sprint ahead, eventually leaving only Finn and Ulysses in sight ahead of me.
I was still a bit behind Ulysses, so I made it my goal to pass him. So for the first half of the lap, I slowly got closer to him, and used the long sprinting sections to get right up behind him. I then drafted off of him for a bit to try saving up my energy for the inevitable sprinting at the end, and finally, at the uphill gravel section right before you turn around and start heading back towards the finish line I was able to overtake him. To my surprise though, Finn was right in front of Ulysses, and I was able to overtake him too. This definitely brought the pressure since I had previously briefly overtook Finn before, but quickly got passed again.
I picked up the pace for the remainder of the lap, trying to stay ahead, but Ulysses passed Finn and was right on my tail. I kept up the pace and sprinted up the hills, and was thankfully able to put some distance between me and Ulysses. And then again to my surprise, I could see someone from black mountain composite not too far ahead of me, and thought I maybe could get ahead of them before the finish line. I was on the last section before the final sprint though, and there wasn’t much time to get ahead of them. So when I got to the top of the final hill, leading to the finish line, I started sprinting like crazy to catch up to them. I was getting so close, but unfortunately I couldn’t get to them in time and finished only 4 seconds behind them.
I didn’t know what place I had got, but was so happy that I was able to get ahead of Ulysses and Finn. Hearing that I got 12 though, I was ecstatic, since I started out near the very back after falling twice, and stayed there for most of the race. That was also 4 spots higher than my last race, so I was super happy with that outcome.
This was definitely one of the weirdest races I have ever done and probably will do. It was just so relatively leisurely, and I would love to race there again. Preferably though if it wasn’t as windy/dusty/hot. Bottom line though, it was a great and fun race.