We were gone in Nashville for a week leading into this past weekend. I was scheduled to run a 5k down there, but I bailed. The main reasons were that I didn't want to get up at 5am to run...and it was crazy hot down there...even at 6am. Not sure what this has to do with anything......history I guess.
I was on the fence still about racing at TK on Sunday. I love the course. I was indecisive because it was raining Saturday. Heavy. And I told myself I wouldn't race if it was nasty. When I got up Sunday the rain had subsided and the forecast appeared to be clear of rain. I loaded up and headed down to Vandalia to test my luck.
When I got to Lawless the lot was filling up. I saw a handful of team members and found a place to park. I wandered over to registration to get signed up. The parking lot was soft....mushy. I had the thought right then to just bail and not race. Then I thought to myself....you just drove down here....race. I asked about a Sport Clyde class to which I got the response that they just don't have that class in this series because nobody races in it. I was holding my money.....again wavering about my decision to race today...knowing that I would get waxed in the Sport 40-49 class where my speedy teammate Jay was already signed up. The people collecting the entries suggested that I give Sport Open a shot. "there are only 2 signed up, so your chances are better". Hmm.....almost afraid to ask I blurted out "what is sport open?". It is exactly what you would think it would be.....a class for Expert riders that are not fast enough to be Expert riders....but too fast to be considered Sport riders.
|Photo courtesy of Brandon Krutsch|
With a smile I said "why not" and threw down the cash to join the Sport open category. Podium guaranteed. I lined up in the first wave of Sport...where I clearly didn't belong. I chatted with a guy and then it was time to go. 3, 2, 1..GO. One guy blasted off the front and I slid into second before hitting the first turn. I kept the leader in sight for a minute....watching as he blew a sharp corner before I was thru the corner too....straight into the woods. Whoops. We both got back onto the trail and he accelerated up a hill and I never saw him again. Making a right turn there was big mud pit. I blasted thru it and was hoping that the rest of the course wasn't going to be like this. This section wasn't part of the normal singletrack so I wasn't too concerned.....but I was also being realistic that it was going to be a slog thru the mud today. As I broke out into the picnic area my parents waved and yelled "good luck". It was good to see them while I was racing, even if just for a minute.
I was pushing pretty hard knowing that I had one guy in my class behind me...but also knowing that the entire Sport race would be closing in on me before too long. I made it a few miles before riders started streaming past. I was maxed. The trail was fairly stable, but some of the corners were soft and slick. It was hard to judge them as some would be perfect while the bike would drift on others. Thankfully I stayed up right. After a barrage of people passing I was riding alone. Around mile 5 I started to settle into my pace. The first lap wasn't great, but I was still sitting in 2nd place. I crossed the finish line and stopped at the picnic area to swap bottles. Then back into the woods for lap 2.
I finally was feeling like I could ride faster. Conditions were drying out and I was settled into my comfort zone. I started to hear someone behind me with about 8 miles to go...so I pressed a bit. At Lawless it is hard to tell where people are in relation to where you are. The trail passes close to itself numerous times so you can pass someone that is close....or someone that is way behind.....or possibly way ahead. I kept catching glimpses of the guy behind me but I couldn't tell if he was closing. The miles ticked by and I got to the last 4 mile section...still holding him off. I saw that he wasn't in my class, but I still was pressing. He didn't catch me and I crossed the finish line confident I had taken 2nd place. When they called the podiums it was confirmed....2nd place! My highest Sport finish ever. Too bad this race doesn't count in the MMBA series.
Still, it was a fun day on the bike and I was happy that I actually beat someone this time. Next up is Big M on Sunday and at this moment there are only 3 in my class, but I know this will change. I will ride my race and see what happens. I will see if I can make it 3 podiums in a row.