What do you do the day before your first Cat 1 mountain bike race? Why you go to All American Road Race, nee Murad, and race your balls off for 62 miles.
At the conclusion of the first lap, I would have summarized the proceedings to date with the blanket statement "absolutely every bad thing that anyone's ever said about Cat 3 racing." It SUCKED. Lap 2 wasn't much better but a guy was off the front. I don't remember all of the particulars but I bridged, and we wound up with 6 guys. It was a good early break, we stayed out for most of a lap, and that helped get things going. This guy Dustin was in the break, and let me tell you - whatever stories you've heard are true. Of the 6 guys in the break, a few seemed to be going pretty deep into "holy shit please make it stop" mode, and another guy and I were working hard but in control. Dustin could have been reading a book. For all I know, he was.
The next sort of hour or so was a study in Dustin going back off the front, and various responses to that. At one point the field got very very slow. NCVC was doing a tremendous job of the 7 Chinese Brothers act, one of them was always there to disrupt the generally extremely lackadaisical attempts to create an actual race out of things. At one point I figured "fuck it, if they are going to be that good at shutting things down, all I have to do is get ahead of them and do a TT for sort of an improbably long time and I'm golden." That didn't work. Then we caught Dustin, and I wound up on the good side of a split, but it was too many dudes, and then there was much attacking and quite honestly I was going a bit too hard to really remember much
The last time Dustin went I threw hatred and fury to get to him before it was too late, got a nice distance off the front at great personal expense, and knew that I'd missed the boat. My move inspired much pedaling from the field though, some of it quite vigorous. This brought Dustin back within range, whereupon Sam from DVR got across. Mon dieu! Then there was a period of much going fast, and we got within range (mostly) of the two of them, and Paul pulled through me and was going rather harder than anyone else seemed to want to go, so being in a position to soft pedal a gap open for him, I expressed my desire that he should go. And he did. And someone said "no way can he get across that alone" and I laughed.
The three of them stayed away for a long long long time, until 3 other brave and much better rested souls went across. We made the decision not to go with them, as when Nate prepared to respond to the move, no word of a lie 15 asses went into the air ready to sprint so I convinced Nate that it was a better gamble if we let them go. I never would have thought they'd actually make it but make it they did and James Studebaker, who has the distinction of passing me faster than anyone ever has in a cross race, won. Huzzah! The field then sprinted for the minor placings.
That's definitely the hardest I've ever ridden to earn the official classification of pack fodder. Was I in the top 20? Who knows. It was a good effort by the team.
Shocker that it is to say, a really fun and challenging bike race. I'm bringing back watt geek stuff here. For reference I weigh 165. Geek out:
2:34 total time
An even 24mph average speed
232 watts average
289 watts normalized
1196 watts max
144 bpm avg hr
171 bpm max hr (I have a crazy low heart rate)
Off to Greenbrier tomorrow. Hoping to pull some miracle out of my ass.