Charm City, hon. An interesting start to the race that starts the season (for me at least). Bib 88 on Saturday. That's gonna hurt. Crap clip in, which never happens, and I'm last. Caught behind a bunch of crashes and by the time I'm in the section before the finish, the leaders are up by the statue (like a minute ahead). Pedal pedal pedal, pass people, blah blah blah.
The thing about the mid-pack zone that's so frustrating is guys who win battles and lose wars. Passing someone NOW NOW NOW, especially when that person is going just about as fast as you can, is often stupid. Yes, great, you sprinted to pass me before that sharp turn. Now we're both skidding to a stop, and the group I'd nearly connected us to is 7 seconds ahead. Maybe it's my error to think big picture throughout the race, but when you think you can still pass 10 or more guys, that's what it is.
Made it a bit north of mid-fleet and then gave a few guys back as the effort from getting there was rough. Not terrible from the third highest bib # in the field. My remounts and sand riding SUCKED, other than that I was okay. Not real fast, no real snap, but that will come. It takes me a few weeks of racing to get there. Last year I started to feel it at Winchester, which was the third week of the season. The difference when you start to feel that snap is amazing.
Sunday was a way better start, but still not awesome. Coming up empty a bunch of times when the throttle just wouldn't respond enough. That snap thing. The course on Sunday was heroically fast. Just awesome. It seems like the game in general has elevated. Guys are better. This is good. I've always used racing as the best practice, and don't do a whole lot before race season (maybe too much in that direction this year - my first for real practice was last week), which is the only way I can deal with a long season. I was riding really really well at the end of last season, so we'll see.
I love having the U19s start behind us. Before the detritus from our start clears, they're on us. This is both because some of them are speedy and because when you have a crap spot on the grid you spend much of the time between your start and theirs waiting for crashes to clear. Some of them are great and you gladly let them through. Others, maybe not. The kid who thought screaming 'inside' when he was clear behind me entering the turn into the first barriers made it my obligation to hit hyperspace and abandon the line I was super clearly on, and then crashed into me (geometry and physics of turns and all), well, if there hadn't been a crowd there I might be out there strangling him yet.
Charm City is a great weekend. I've never been a super fast starter in the small or big picture so I'm unlikely to ever have great results there, but even with that it's sort of a can't miss event. Blow off the cobwebs, make sure stuff is game-ready, and use it to build a (hopefully) good year on.