The hardest part of doing 5 races in 9 days is keeping up with the race reports.
Providence Day 2 saw a bit of course redesign from the grand master of course redesign, Tom Stevens. Now Tom may not be the most PR savvy race promoter going, but the old dog can design one hell of a circuit. No one does it better. That man has an extra chromosome or a special gene for laying out a cross course. I wonder what his parents did for a living... undoubetdly something that involved using a French Curve.
ahem... anyway, so we've established that Tom's a course design phenom, but the challenge of placing 3 lanes of course across a 30' wide section of curbing proved to be too much to overcome, and several accidents resulted. The worst of it was a gradual right hand bend that got narrower and narrower and then suddenly turned sharply to the right just where dirt turned to gravel and met an asphalt curbing. Iron crowd control fencing to the left ensured that any mistakes made there wouldn't just result in a crash, but in grade A carnage. Rider after rider over-cooked the turn, lost traction on the gravel, and collected the fencing while more people gathered to provide a human bucket brigade of concern. And in what has to be the irony or ironies, Tom Stevens himself lost it on that corner half way through his race, eating much fencing and pavement in the process. That's a pisser, eh?
Tom was alright and spotted later on running the show.
With newly provided valvue extenders installed, my anticipation was high at the start. Third of fourth row, who cares really, the right side opened up and I moved forward in the field. Off the pavement in about 20th place, the race was pretty strung out already. My dad was there, he works in retail and rarely gets weekends off but had made some arrangements to come to RoJo's to spectate. That was great. I mention him because he was giving me reliable placing and split imformation throughout. Thanks Pop!
Half way through lap 1 I was at the back of that front group that always opens up that first little gap on the rest of the field, and it was coming easy. Someone (not my dad) said "top 20" and I knew right then I wouldn't finish worse than that on this day.
The Sunday course featured a lot of "driving" and less "pedalling," or at least there was sufficient curvy sections where one could catch a bit of rest. Aside from the sketchy right hander of death, the course flowed for me really nicely, and the power sections were short and punchy, perfect for this ex-hockey player who prefers a 60/40 power to coasting ratio. 50/50 is good to.
While picking up a spot here and there I happened to ride up to John Foley, super smooth mtbiker guy yadda yadda you know the drill. Shamelessly, I latched onto John's wheel and followed it for three solid laps, only going to the front once before realizing that I was slowing us both down. He needed me far less than I did him. John took us up and past Peter Sullivan (who was clearly not feeling it) and pulled us away from Harry Stover and Brian Rutter.
The Foley express made contact with 45+ stud John Mosher at just under two to go. Foley apparently thought that "racing" meant "going hard" "all the time" while I felt "content" to "continue to suck wheel," even if that wheel was now Mosher's and not Foley's. So I watched Foley ride away from a comfy spot behind my new fiend Mosher for a lap or so, then decided that I should start taking $hit seriously and figure out how to beat the new John to the line.
Throughout the race Dad's saying "you're 15th... 14 is 5 seconds ahead" and at this point he yells "hey Myette, get your a$$ in gear and ride!!!" It was great to hear him moving all around the course to cheer me on.
Irony alert! The last time my dad watched me race was at the 2006 Cross Nationals... in Providence... where I came to the line with... John Mosher! ISYN.
On that day (which was only worth 291 cr.com points, it is still one of my all time best perfromances IMHO) Mosher got the better of me for 4th place, in a sprint that was over before it started. This was going through my mind as we began the final lap. Foley was out of touch for 13th and 16th was far back as well so I thought about a plan...
Problem is that I was pretty gassed, and thinking wasn't coming clearly. I passed Mosher on the long power section before realizing that I was now going to have to be in the wind through the final 3 longer draft friendly sections. aww crap. Ok... now the plan would be to keep him behind me until the final climb, but try and rest between now and there so I could drill it afterwards and see what happened.
So I rode defensively (read "like a complete course hoggin a-hole") through the final time past the pit and soft pedaled up to the base of the climb. I'll be dipped in dog $hit but it worked: Mosher stayed behind my squirrelly-ness and I was just a bit rested when we got to the climb. I didn't go nuts up the hill either, it would have been hard and risky for a rider to come past on that part, so there would be no harm in going slow still. At the top I got on the gas as fast as possible and railed the turns, flew up the steps and drilled it back to the start/finish straight. Mosher was 4 lenghts back, but looked pretty beat and I stayed on the power to finish 14th.
Yay! a good race with great competion and no tyre problems. Life is a chair of bowlies.
Fina-effin-ly got through a race with no mechanicals and feeling good.