Blunt Park - August 21, 2011

Flying in the face of the "don't race cross in August crowd", I headed to Springfield today to do the Cat 4's at Blunt Park.

 @bicykel: Gross, don't get any diapers stuck in your wheel during the race.

Despite a very late night out, I got there nice and early (and dodged the godawful mess from some major festival or other they had there last night) to get some pre-ride laps in. I should actually count them as "training laps" considering I only put in 2.5 hours on the bike last week. Even so, I now wonder if 4 laps, even at an easy pace, was too many.

Got a nice front row position at the start and the marshall did the usual countdown announcements of "10 minutes to go", "5 minutes to go" then finally when he said "about a minute to go" - he IMMEDIATELY followed that with "GO" and totally caught me snoozing.

Despite that flub, I made it through the acorn covered hole-shot in about 10th place or so. The course was in good shape as far as I could tell: a couple of rooty spots, a couple of deep potholes on the single track, but overall I thought it was a good course though with not very much up and down.

The first half of each lap featured a number of logs across the course. After the first lap, I followed the example of those in front of me and merely rode over them instead of dismounting/remounting (thankful for all that MTB action this summer!). The last log was just a bit higher than the rest and situated right after a turn in the midst of a lot of loose pine needles, so that one I did carry the bike over.

Special pat on my own back for noticing during the pre-ride that the ground immediately after was very bumpy and would have made a quick remount dicey, so I went an extra bike length before getting back on: very helpful.

Next was one of the long straights followed by a buncha turns, short straight, more turns then the barriers, there were FOUR, which were set at exactly the right distance apart for me to take TWO steps in between. This meant I pretty much felt like, and probably looked like, I was galloping through them.

The barriers were followed by the "climby" portion of the course which was really not very, but there were turns, loose dirt and roots that made you pay attention then finally back onto the start/finish straight.

The race itself pretty much settled out to me and about 4-5 others dicing back and forth for the duration. This group shrank to 3 and re-combined to 5 again later in the race. I passed a coupla guys and 2-3 passed me. I remember Dylan McKeon, a young (18?), tall Cyclonauts guy who was able to get ahead of me on the straights but every time the turns came along, he'd falter, slow or, once, fall and I'd go by him. I really felt like I was handling the bike very well today.

At some point, I realized that I forgot to turn on my 'puter and gave myself a little kick for squandering a good data collection opportunity. Once you get the stats bug, it hurts to have holes in your data. I started it up and figured I could get a decent estimate of mileage, laptime and distance later.

Another guy who was ahead of me for at least 2-3 laps went down pretty hard on a 180 right hander that had some exposed roots on the inside line - he must have slid his front wheel on them and boom, down he went. I dodged him and got a good 10 yards ahead of him and yet another guy passed him too. It took him a full lap but, kudos to him, he battled back and got ahead of our whole group.

Last lap, I had 3 of our group ahead plus one additional guy who was further ahead earlier but fading. I waited until the last series of turns to pour it on, thinking I could get ahead of at least a couple of them but it was too late: I should have made that move at least a 1/2 lap before the end. Lesson learned.

Finished 12th, 4 places ahead of the race predictor, happy with the result.

I was pleasantly surprised to see and hear both Doug and Coley cheering me on at separate sections of the course, looking forward to reading their reports.

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