What started as a decent, albeit muddy ride, turned into a pretty painful affair at the Leadbelt XC! When a rain storm drops on the park the night before, the course becomes essentially a muddy cross course that is 8 miles long.
For the XC races that I’m doing this year, I’ve moved up to Cat 2/Sport (depends on the series — that’s a whole other story!). This means that I’ve essentially been racing for a year and am trying to chase guys who have likely been racing for a lot longer. Not to mention I now race in the 30-39 age group, which is traditionally the faster group in a category.
Let me say that I don’t mind a race/ride in adverse conditions and actually came around for the first lap thinking “this isn’t so bad!”. Firstly, though, you need to consider that you start after the marathon class, cat 3/beginner class, cat 1/expert class, and a couple parts of the cat 2/sport class. This makes a soft trail a well used mud pit by the time your first lap happens.
But this is racing, not complaining. On the first lap, I had a few issues with tracking in the mud, didn’t take the initiative to pass in a few places (when I should have) but fell only once when I had chain suck in a steep pitch. The second lap, I had closed the gap between me and the second-to-last rider, but I quickly became bogged down on the course. When I hit the same pitch that I had fell on early, the cranks locked again, I went down full-force-sternum-to-bar-ends. I lay off the trail for a minute surprise that the air had not gotten knocked out of me. I decided that I was not so bad off, just in pain, so I got back on and did my best to finish the race.
My only other issue was that I did not hydrate (and thus feed) well on the loop. I essentially drank one bottle in 1.5 laps and finished without water. I can’t remember if I had a gel in there or not, but I know that I felt absolutely hungry in that last mile or two, which I’m sure didn’t help. I finished last in my age group, but 18th out of 24 finishers if you consider the whole class. The race left me feeling pretty drained for the next few days. I had a couple good rides, but I took one sick day to catch up on sleep. I was happy to be racing again, the race was more difficult that I planned for, but going in I knew it was to “test the waters”. Beyond general fitness, I do think some of my training has paid off this winter and I’m hopefully to break into the middle of this group by end of year!