Rainier yesterday. Such a nice course. Would have been nicer if it was a little softer & muddier but that would be splitting hairs. I’d be a turd if I bitched about it any more than that.
After moving up this year, I’d been wondering where I’d shake out in the results. Middle of the pack? Near the top? Near the bottom? I had no idea. After a few races this year, I’d been getting a better sense of my own personal level of effort and where I came out in the results. So far, I’ve been pretty Steady Eddie: 26th at Alpenrose & 24th last week. Over the past week, I’ve been feeling pretty strongly that a top 20 or even in the points (top 18) would be a solid accomplishment for my first year in Mst A’s.
With the background noise about the new starting system, I figured it couldn’t possibly hurt me. I’ve been getting to the start and lining up near the back third, trading start position for a decent warm-up. As luck would have it, my number (#1) was third in order. By the time everyone was called up, I was in about the 3rd or 4th row.
Got a decent jump off the start, hanging with the pack until we wound up the hill. The hill, like for every other category I saw, segregated the group pretty quickly. By the time we reached the downhill section, I was in the top 20, right where I wanted to be. I say Jason Crago ahead and Doug Evans about 20 yards ahead, 2 people I knew who consistently finish between 10-20. I wanted to keep them in sight as long as I could.
Checking in after 1 lap, I feel solid. I’m cornering probably the sharpest I ever have on a cross bike (thank you Racing Ralphs). The uphill climb is fair, certainly not spectacular. With the exception of the hill, it’s not a hard course at all. All I need to do is to hold on here.
Right. On lap 2, it thinned out a bit and gaps are opening up between people. I’m riding caboose on a group of 5 or 6. I’m noticing that my chain is skipping on gears 2 through 4. So I’m left with my weenie gear (25) or the 17. It didn’t show up so much on the 1st lap but now I really need them in the back stretch through the woods and definitely up the hill. I go with the 25 and I spin way too high and lose speed. The 17 is too low to turn without really torching my legs. I decide on the 25 up the hill and end up feeling like I’m hemorrhaging time to the rest of the field.
I contemplate stopping in the pits to check it out but decide against it. By lap 3 or 4, my group broke up and I’ve lost another spot or two. I’m on Andrew Reed’s wheel for a couple laps. We both seem to be at the same pace. He’d pull away up the hill and I’d get it back throughout the rest of the lap. I wasn’t sucking his wheel but I wasn’t looking to pass him yet either.
With a few to go, I see Mike Alligood ahead. Jake Rosenfeld and I are passing each other off and on but he finally pulls away for good. Greg Talbert is about 15 yards up but I just can’t dig it out to catch up. Finally got lapped by the A’s with 3 to go. I’m glad I held them off that long.
Finished out ok, probably somewhere in the 20’s. (actually 24th) I reached a bit high in the beginning on a course that is certainly not my strongest. Of my finishes last year, I did the (relatively) worst here at Rainier. It’s that f-ing hill.
First, I skipped contacts and went with the sturdy black frame glasses and a nerdy glasses strap (One at a time, ladies!…One at a time!). Much better. I was getting a lazy eye or the contact was drying out and I’d get double vision during a race. I’d go through periods where I”d have no depth perception. Not good. Sooner or later, something bad was going to happen. The glasses fixed that. Don’t know what the hell I’ll do when it gets rainy or muddy but I’ll cross that bridge later.
Second, I finally put on a third eye chain watcher. Seeing as my chain did not fall off for once, I’ll call that a success too. Thanks Jeff Standish and Chris Taucher for the reminder.
Third, given the longer length of the A race, if there’s a mechanical issue that could possibly be corrected – like turning the tension barrel on the rear derailleur, for example – I need to try and think straight and just stop to fix it. Our team has a couple guys hanging around the pits to help out. I don’t know how much time I lost on the 8 laps of that race going up that hill and also not attacking through the woods when I felt the freshest of each lap. Probably more than the 10-30 seconds it would have taken to stop in the pits. Plus a lot less mental energy wasted on thinking about it.
Rest week this week. No Astoria either. I’m glad for the break. More later.