Woke up Sunday morning looking forward to hitting Lake Hope State Park for OMBC series race #4. While I have not been on the trails a lot this year due to schedule and weather, I was feeling really good about the race. Unfortunately, my body wasn't feeling as excited. I did not sleep well with a lot of pain in my middle back and got up with an upset stomach. Excusing it as pain from working at the house the day before and nervousness, I prepared for the day. Turned on the local radar to see a giant yellow blob rolling onto us. So much for an 80 degree with clouds race. I was now having second thoughts to be honest, but Ethan was still ready to ride, so we ate breakfast, loaded the truck, dropped Michael at church, Brock at my brothers and off to the lake we drove.... in the rain.
By now it is raining pretty good, plus it is only about 61 degrees. Cool and wet we registered and got the bikes out. The kids race, much to the race organizers surprise, had 8 kids. The course is a bit of gravel road and a section of Copperhead trail to the same finish as the adults. Ethan looked miserable at the start, though he says afterwards it was more fun in the mud (just like a kid). He placed 2nd in his age group, not too bad.
I get geared up for my race. My stomach is hurting quite a bit by now, but still excusing it as nerves, it should go away. The sport race is a mass start. I quickly fall towards the back as most the guys crank it out the road. I pedal out around 14mph, so I coast a couple of the hills on the road. The rain is really pouring now, but despite my tires (hard pack tires: WTB Nano Raptor in the rear and an Exiwolf in the front) the bike is handling well and pedaling is easy. I slowly started picking off riders, several of whom either were hitting the ground or having drive train problems. One problem with racing is managing my momentum, especially on a SS. I try to carry as much into a climb as I can and then really crank it up the hill to maintain some cadence. All these geared guys just drop to granny, sit and spin. While this did affect me more than once, I was able to pass a lot of riders on the climbs. In fact, a polite request to pass was given each time this day. I was having a difficult time drinking. My stomach was just not cooperating, excusing it now for hard effort. I was having fun though. A side note, the front Crud Catcher worked perfectly. My bike and back was plastered with mud, but my face was clean.
The race went down Copperhead, onto Bobcat, cross the road to Wildcat, to Copperhead at Grouse Point, back across the road and on to the campground connector. Sometime around the second road crossing the rain had all but quit. The trails changed drastically. Traction was much harder to come by and effort level was much higher. I ended up losing the front end and slamming a tree with my left shoulder. With enough distance to the rider behind me though, I did not lose a position. Ended up catching about three more riders in the last couple miles. I was glad to see the finish line. My Garmin said 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Jumped in the bike wash line and then cleaned myself up. Two hours after my finish, they finally announced the class placings. They ended up combining single speed with sport vet. I was disappointed, not in how I rode, but that classes got combined. I really am not there for the prize money, but I cannot compete with some of these sport vet racers. Anyway, it is what it is. I finished 9th in the combined field of 25 riders, and second in my class, just three minuets back from the leader. My official time: 1:42:32.
Oh, and my stomach still hurt. Turns out I had a bit of a virus that was shared around the family, finishing the day fighting chills followed by hot sweats. Not sure what kind of damage the bike took. It is all cleaned up now, but the bottom bracket turns rough. Need to inspect the fork seals and brake pads, and clean and lube the chain too.
Thanks to the Athens Bicycle Club for clearing the trails and marshaling the race. You all did a fantastic job.