I bought a mtb license this year to force myself to race more. The plan to do 8 events slowly eroded down to three, and I really had to force myself to get to that third one: the Treasure Valley Rally in Rutland Ma.
This course was technical to put it mildly. It was basically two loops of a 9 mile rock garden with a killer one mile climb about 7 miles into the loop. Attendance was up from last year, so either the amnesia is contagious or people actually like riding on trails that the average Burger King eating American would have a hard time walking.
I'm a Veteran II according to EFTA, whatever that means. Pre-race Mr. Kenny had the neutral support thing covered and many of the cross regulars were there... McInnis, Borello, Hines, Reuter, Zank, Rowell, Millette and so on. One of the mtb'ers made a comment about this being the last race of the season and we all chucked... "this is the pre-season buddy!" someone said. Indeed.
At the whistle I settled in the back and began the death march. My HR was in th 170s in no time and we were just barely moving along. The course was relentless, tons of rocks, off camber, and tricky pick-your-way-through parts. Looking for flow? Look elsewhere.
I followed McInnis and Borrello half way through lap one, and when they pulled to the side to get some water I took the front. I didn't intend to get a gap... I had been well above threshold for over 30 minutes and I knew I couldn't hold that for much longer.... but after a short downhill I was alone.
That's really the story of mtb racing: riding alone with no clue where you were in the field. I caught up to K. Buckley towards the end of the lap, but he pulled away shortly after the S/F line. Just over an hour for the first lap... not too bad really.
Next up was Linnea, who before the race said "see you soon" to me, thinking I'd catch her eventually. She was right and when I saw I was gaining I yelled "I'm coming to get ya" and then couldn't close the final 10 meters for the next 15 minutes. I did get past eventually, but only on a spot that she bobbled and I was able to keep riding.
So back to chasking Buckley when I come upon a neighbor of mine who asks if he can use my pump. I drop it thinking that what could possibly happen in the next 3 miles, and if it did, he'd catch me and give the pump back. Great plan, right?
I caught Buckley on that same downhill I had gapped the guys on the first lap. He promptly endoed and I got past, setting my sights on Millette, who was just ahead at this point. Up the killer climb the second and final time and just as I start the descent the rear wheel goes flat. I start the change and wait for my pump. Buckley goes past. Still no neighbor. Linnea next. Then McInnins. Borrello. A bunch of other guys I had passed at the beginning of lap one. It occurs to me that I should at least start to walk.
15 minutes later I reach a clearing and there is my neighbor chatting to a volunteer, clearly out of the race. I was a bit miffed... you take a guys gear you should make the attempt to continue on in the event that they need it. Anyway, filled with air I was off to finish the final mile or so. Second lap was 1:17 or so.
Went for a quick dip in the lake with the kids after the race, which was great. I'm not sure that I'll be back for the 2011 edition, but it was a decent warm up for cross.