So yesterday happened but today was today. Arrived with plenty of time to do the necessaries and warm up. Legs felt sluggish, which was great because the race starts with a snappy climb. A good but gentle warmup helped set things to tenable.
Unlike last year in Cat 2 when a medium effort at the start put me at the front, staying at the front was hard today. I sucked terribly at the first rock garden, a combo of still getting going and, well, Cat 1's pretty fast. Paid for the lost spots on the first water bar climb, stuck behind guys who went slower than I wanted to. Reattached to the leaders atop the second water bar climb and off to the races. Aric and I were pacing nicely, but he flagged a bit and I knew my chances to avoid dfl meant going hard when the going was hard so I went.
4 laps of that course takes a long time. Highlight was when Dylan (these kids with "d" names are all the rage) who won pro/open passed by (they had a big head start but still, wow) and I did the fast section after water bar climbs holding his wheel. Holy cow, dropped the ever loving shit out of the group behind. I'd thought I had taken that section fast before - HA!
The last lap I really fell off of the leaders. Yesterday's big day finally blew up in my legs and my back was feeling the strain. Basically I just struggled through the last lap on the hairy edge of really blown. The front waved bye-bye, and a few from behind nearly said hello. All told, 7th out of 20 in my first Cat 1 race is groovy. I'd thought I was at risk of getting last but instead I beat some good guys and was nearly competitive with the actual race. Cool. Also I'd guess not many of them put in a big hard race on Saturday.
Another challenging but fun weekend of racing. Next weekend is just one race day, at Fair Hill Spring XC. So much for this being an off year of mtb racing.