Skipping over the end of my mtb season (because who cares about mtb racing anyway, right? At least when you're a mediocre expert rider trying to crack the top 20...) I'll get to catching up on and hopefully keeping up with race reports for cross season.
The season opener for me is as usual for Southern Ontario, the local race (for me) at Burgoyne Woods in St. Catharines. Driving only 15 minutes to get to the venue is awesome. Pounding stakes until 8:30 the night before, not so much, but someone has to do it!
I got to the venue early enough to see the morning races go off and generally have a relaxing start to the day. Hopped on course for a couple laps between races and having helped design half the course found it much as expected - stupid fast, but with enough corners to require SOME skill to keep your speed.
Hopped on the trainer during the second race, situated perfectly for spectating and chatting to fellow racers as they came to sign in. After the course cleared I got on the backside to do some more practice while they ran the kids race on the other side. Lined up good and early but conceded front row spots to others who I thought deserved them - mistake #1.
Off the line I got a bit hung up with Andrew, but thankfully we just leaned on each other a bit and got going. I guess he missed his pedal, which explains it, and thankfully he's someone I can trust to lean on and get on with things. Unfortunately that put me pretty far back into the first corner so it was time to chase like hell through the technical section before it opened up as I knew gaps would open between groups as soon as things got straight and wide.
I managed to get in to a group wth Brusso, Nick, Andrew and myself which lasted about 1 lap. At that point Andrew and Nick rolled off the front while Brusso and I just kind of looked at each other, both of us not really able to get on it without digging a huge hole for this early in the race. Shortly after that we hooked up with one of the Masters, and so began our little train of 3. We rolled around for a few more laps everyone going smoothly and keeping Andrew and Nick in sight. Smoothly until I washed out in the sandy pine section that is, which sucks because I was otherwise cornering better than the others.
Train o' Wilby, Moote, Brusso
Same train, different order
That gave them their gap which was really only 5 or 10 seconds, which I planned to close down on the next time through the technical section because there was no way I'd make up ground on them in the straight bits. Unfortunately maybe they knew this, and I hear them talking and next thing I knew they'd taken off on the big finish stretch, quickly sending the gap out to 30 seconds or more. That was essentially the end of it, and I was left to go alone for the last 2 laps or so, holding off those behind with ease and making up a little ground on those in front but not enough to matter.
10th on the day... not bad for the first race and way better than last year. First Elite race I didn't get lapped in too, and not for lack of speedy guys at the front. Cheers to my teammate Pete for taking the sprint against Chown by about 5 cm, even if it was because the line was painted crooked on the grass (hmm, who painted that line again? oh yeah it was Chown... he took it well though and there was a photo to back it up). Oh yeah, the new bike rocks. And thanks to Jeff K for the photos I stole for this post (without permission!)
One race down... off to VT next for my VERGE NECCS debut.