First race of my season and it's been raining for at least the last 36 hours before the start. It was pouring last night, pouring when i woke up at an ungodly hour too pick up mike, and pouring all the way up 70 to hagerstown. i left a little too much slack in the schedule, so as we pulled in to south hagerstown high school the promoters were still out setting up the course. we hung out in the car untill the rain let up a bit and then ventured out to get registered.
the course was still only half marked as we set out to pre-ride the loop. the tape wasn't up, but the stakes were in the ground and with a little imagination we were able to make out the course. the course was mostly pretty flat, winding around the ballfields, lots of grass with a couple of short ride/run ups and a tricky section that took a 90 degree turn down a hill, then 180'd and when straigt back up. on our preride laps only the down & up was hard enough require a dismounnt, the other two sections were both rideable. 2/3rds of the way around the lap the course went through a small culvert... easy enough to ride if you know what you're doing on a bike, but maybe big enough to force a selection in the field.
on to the racing
about fifteen of us line up for the C race at 8:45 as the rain starts of pick up. we're only 15 minutes behind schedule, not bad considering that the course still wasn't finished at 8:30. no instructions from the ref, just a one minute warning and we're off... a quick pavement section through a parking lot, 180 to loop back through on the other side of an island and onto the grass. mike and i take the 1 & 2 positions on the pavement and hold them into the grass. a couple of turns into the course i see a set of barriers on the course that weren't there when we pre-rode. no big deal though, the entrance and exit were both flat & straight. my crappy remount looses me a couple of places as a couple of coppi riders came by. the course is getting wetter and there are a couple of sections that really drain the power from your legs.
into the down & up section and an even crappier remount (damn off-camber remounts at the top of run-ups, what is it about them that gets me completely f'd) lets about half of the field past me. the 2nd half is fairly flat and put the emphasis on power. between that and the culvert i managed to claw my way up to third, behind 2 coppi riders by the start of the 2nd lap. at the end of the first lap the lap cards show 4 laps to go, more than i expected. i manage to hold my position a couple of seconds behind the 2 coppi riders on the 2nd lap and we start to put a gap on the rest of the field. i'm still having problems with the down & up section, and one of the other ride/run sections is getting pretty soft and unrideable. finishing the 2nd lap the lap cards skipped from 4 to 2 and i start to think that i can probably hold 3rd place.
after the start of the 3rd lap the 2 coppi riders start to separate and i start to gain some ground on the slower of the 2 riders. i managed to pass the slower rider for 2nd place before the down & up section, but lost the place thanks to my slow remount. with a lap & a half left i figured that to take 2nd i had to make sure i had a good lead going into the dismounts on the last lap so i attacked on the flats towards the end of the lap and managed to get a small gap and then extend it. by the time we hit the dismounts on the last lap i had enough of a gap over 3rd that he couldn't catch me while i floundered about on the remounts. heading into the last half of the last lap i looked over my shoulder to see no one behind me (and no one in front, as first place had a pretty good gap on me). i kept the presure on for the rest of the lap, just in case something happened and came across the line for 2nd place, my best 'cross finish ever. there was a swag table, but no podium...
the new bike was great, don't know what difference it made, but i was feeling pretty good so i took some beer by the shop on the way home.