Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Top 10 Finish

A ninth-place finish for the Piney Hills Classic. Very apprehensive about this race after Saturday's pre-ride. In short, this course is everything I'm not good at. A lot of down-and-ups. On these you have to really work the descent. No brakes. Gathering as much speed as possible. At the bottom hit a narrow 3-ft. wide bridge at nearly 30mph, so you have enough momentum to make it up the steep backside. Do it right, and it's an exilerating blast. Do it wrong and it makes for a lot of hike-a-biking. Being a flat-lander these are not strong parts of my skillset.

On my way to the start area I noticed a lot of Cat 2 folks exiting the course at the road crossing. DNF'ing. Not encouraging, as it had rained a bit. With no expectations I arrived at the start area, wondering where everyone was. The turnout was really small, compared to most XC races in Texas. I kept waiting for a horde of riders to turn up to stage. I went to the chute, and Cap got us lined up and off we went.

The first third of the race went better than expected. I could see peeks of the lead group as four of us fell back. Then four became two, and finally on one of the jeep roads I found myself alone. Strangely this felt good, as this was to go from racing to training in a hurry.

I missed a chunk of the course on my pre-ride. It was closed for the short-track and time-trials. I didn't get to ride Tomac hill. This is something special. As I rolled up... I understood why people talk about it. I was too gassed to give much pause and down I went. Fun, fun, fun. Did not know a MTB could go that fast. Went nearly as fast on the fenceline hill, and nearly biffed the yump at the bottom. Landing front-wheel-first at 30ish is not a good feeling.

This was definately the hardest race I've ever done. It's a hard course, but a do-able course, that rewards good descending skills and punishes mistakes. Maybe that's the cause of the small entrant field? At the same time... the course is one of the funnest I've ever ridden. Seems like the sort place that would make a good rider into a great rider. It certainly exposed my weaknesses and gave me a lot of concepts to focus on for the spring season.

I want to come back to ride without the pressure of a race before the spring season begins. The park is beautiful and the facilities are great. Very, very nice venue.

Oh, and about that top-ten finish... ummm... yeah. There were only nine entrants in my category. ;-)