Sunday was the Fairhill mountain bike race sponsored by Bikeline. I decided last minute to do this race, more becasue I just love riding the trails at Fairhill but also as a warm up for the State Champs at Greenbrier in two weeks than anything. I envy anyone who lives close to this area as they are near some of the best trail riding around. For me I just don't get there often enough, and unfortunately it's only to race.
Registered for Single Speed Expert I wasn't really confident of my fitness. Saturday I went to Davidsonville and had to sit up from the group before we even got to Rt. 258. I spent the next hour and a half riding solo back to the park and ride wondering how poorly I would do the next day and hoping it would rain enough to cancel the event so I could get my $28 back.
Sunday's weather was cool and damp, cross season weather, I like racing in this weather. I almost didn't make it to the race as I assumed it was at the same location as the summer race, fortunately I read the website one last time and realized the parking was in a completely different area. The ABRT/Latitude team was out in force representing juniors through expert class.
Our youngest racer, Spencer, puts on his game face for his first mountain bike race
While his mom Sue also looks to be having a good time in her first race
Sean and Doug representing in the SS Sport class, sorry Kidd, no one took your picture but we know you were there, too. All three placed well in the SS Sport race.
Dennis taking home the big DUB-YA in the Vet Sport class, still representing his Guy's team though, nice way to start the season...
I went against one of my general rules of racing and made a major equipment modification the day before by swapping my rigid fork for a suspension, only major in that I haven't ridden suspension is well over a year or two and wasn't sure of handling since I had no time to dial the thing in. I was also concerned over my gearing selection, I got my ass handed to me last year at Granogue because I ran to large of a gear. While at Race Pace Saturday picking up my bike I grabbed a16T cog thinking I had been riding on a 17T all winter and wanted something a bit smaller for what was said to be a relatively flat course. When I took my wheel off to swap the cogs I found that I had been riding a 15T, no wonder the waterbar climb was kicking my ass. So instead of making a second modification to the bike I decided if I could ride Avalon on the 32x15 I could race Fairhill.
Warming up on the gravel roads my legs were heavy and tired, not a good feeling going into a 22 1/2 mile race. The SS Expert field doubled from 13 to 26 riders with day of registrations making for a nice size field. The turn out overall was huge for the first cross country race of the MASS series. For once I had a teammate in a mountain bike race, our junior Tom Mackay.
On the start up the gravel road Tom took off for the front but it was a bit comedic as the pack took off then bunched up as no one could really go any faster than the next guy regardless of how quickly you spun the pedals. I moved up on the long gravel road down hill and hit the single track about third wheel. Two guys quickly opened up a gap and I just didn't have the legs to follow. A few more guys got around me so I was sitting top 5 with Poz on my wheel. We were ripping through the course picking off slow moving Sr Experts and just having fun on the great trails.
By the end of lap 1 we were sitting 4th and 5th, not bad for being sick all of March and feeling like shit the day before. I managed to lose my waterbottle on a bumpy log bridge and I was losing my waterbottle cage as well so I didn't bother trying to take a bottle at the end of the first lap. Lap 2 we headed into the woods but Poz opened up a gap on me by getting around some geared riders. Then, in what I can only say is what Adam Craig describes as Eye Bonk, I blew a turn and ran head on into a sapling riping me from my bike. I picked myself up as Buddy the Leg Breaker went by and started chasing.
Thanks to Dennis, Sue and Stu for hanging out for my race and handing up bottles. I grabbed one for the uphill gravel road but tossed it knowing I couldn't carry it through the woods.
I was pretty much riding solo for the better part of the third lap which sucks because it becomes too easy to back off the pace. Two guys caught me and for some reason I just couldn't chase. Entering the back half of the course I could see a small group closing in but couldn't tell if it was anyone in my class when I clipped a tree hard with my shoulder and came to a stop. Another SS'er went by me, f$%!. Chase, chase, chase. I stayed on his wheel and decided I would just take him in the sprint. As the trail opened up into the field I jumped right to try and go early but the grass just bogged me down and I ran out of real estate before the line.
8th place. Tom finished not too far behind me in 11th.
Not bad for a last minute race I hadn't been training for and a great day all around for the ABRT/Latitude team.
*Photos courtesy of Sue Estes and Dennis Smith