This is the first time I’ve raced at Catamount since some time in the mid 1990’s. While I’ve never been fond of riding around in grassy fields, I figured this would make a good first race of the season. This would be my first race on my green Jabberwocky. It would also be my first race wearing my NEMBA jersey.
I work with meteorologists, but I still take the forecasts with a grain of salt. Sunday was supposed to be sunny and relatively warm when I checked the NWS zone forecast earlier in the week. By Saturday, that outlook wasn’t as rosy. It ended up raining a fair amount in the night (or was it early morning). Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to make things messy, just a little damp around the edges.
In a bizarre alignment of circumstances, I managed to arrive early at Catamount. In fact, I was early enough to pre-ride the course and still have time to prepare for the race itself. This was so strange that I think it threw off my race a little.
The course was quite similar to the Wednesday night series races I had done long ago. Supposedly, this was a new course layout; but I can’t comment on what might be different or new. Half of the ride was in the open fields on freshly mowed paths. Some of the field riding was hard packed and some was just soft mowed grass. The other half of the course was pretty nice single-track through the woods bordering the fields. Since it was a loop, there should have been as much climbing as descending; but it honestly felt like 80% of it was gaining elevation. The climbs in the woods went up several banked corners, rather than descending them. There were also a few sharp switchbacks. It wasn’t extremely technical but interesting enough to make it interesting.
There was a decent turn out considering that the weather looked like it could start raining at any minute. In the single speed category, there were eight or nine of us. I also found out as we lined up for the start that we would be doing four laps instead of three. Considering how fast the pace ended up being, this was probably a good thing. Five or six laps might have suited me better, but I didn’t get to choose. As I warmed up before the start, I noticed that my legs “felt heavy.” Not a good sign.
On the first lap, we went out hard. I was a little slow getting clipped in and started off in the middle of the pack. Over the first half of the lap, I worked my way up to third place. Ahead of me were Ross Scatchard and Travis Voyer. From there, I decided it would be better just to sit in for a while since they were moving along fast enough for me. I spent quite a bit of this time pondering why I think I enjoy racing. I couldn’t find any answers. We kept that pace up for quite a while; but into the latter part of the second lap, I started to feel little waves of nausea gently wash over me as I pedaled along. New race rule: never go near a McDonalds on the day of a race, no matter how hungry I may be. Ever. The feeling eventually passed; but by the third lap, I was mostly hanging on. I gave up my position to Ken VanBuren, settling for fourth. There was nothing I could do about it. At least I still managed to keep the lead two riders in sight most of the time and still had the hope that I might be able to reel them in if they faded at all before the end. Throughout all this, I had Marc Stannard hounding me. I started to feel slightly better through the latter part of the race but never was able to gain any ground on the guys ahead of me. We all finished within a few minutes of each other. My time was around 1:04 and I averaged just over 13mph. Official results have been posted on Catamount’s web site.
I didn’t ride nearly as well as I had hoped. I was really hurting aerobically, which I knew would be my weakness at this point. On the positive side of things, I did feel strong when climbing the steeper parts of the single-track. My legs never burned on the uphill sections. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to carry me through this time around. Regardless, it was a fun race overall.
This was Emma’s first race this year as well. She opted for the 2 lap race and was the only girl in her age group. Likewise, she hadn’t eaten well that morning; and it had a noticeable effect on her too. She made the effort and pushed through to the end. She took first place, even if it was by default. She won a light jacket and some flowers for her effort.