woke up this morning to a half inch of sleet on the ground in philly and my hopes raised for a snowy race at fairhill. once at the park it turned out that what had fallen as sleet in philadelphia had come down as rain further south and the course was already turning into a muddy, sloppy mess.
took a quick spin on the course between the C and masters race to see what we had in store us. the course was long and littered with lots of 90 and 180 degree turns. if the course was dry it would have been pretty fast, with little elevation change, save for the start/finish straight. today it was not dry and the course was muddy any place it wasn't on pavement. sticky mud, sloppy mud, sandy mud, grassy mud, watery mud, you describe a kind of mud and this course had it. there were long boggy grass sections, slick mud in the corners, a short technical section full of soft chopped up dirt that clogged up tires, pedals, and shoes. after my pre-ride i washed off my bike and changed my shorts and socks since the ones i was wearing were covered in mud and soaking wet.
yeah, the planks were in the beer tent
after the masters race finished i ventured out of my warm car to "warm up" on the roads around the park and keep an eye on the staging area to get a decent spot for the scrum for the start line after the call-ups. since the group was fairly small (26) the promoters ended up calling up just about the entire field and i was stuck in the very back row the handful of other riders that don't have any MAC B series points. my expectations for the race were pretty minimial, so i really didn't care where i started. after my 38th place at the reston MAC race i just wanted to do a better job at pacing myself in hopes of avoiding cracking once we got past the 30 minute mark.
once the race started i hung back in the pack in the starting sprint, then started to pick of other racers after we hit the grass. after another race the course was muddier than when i pre-rode it, and most of the corners were even slower. i kept moving up through the pack over the first two of what, according to the lap card that was up at the end of the first lap, would be five laps. by the third lap i'd settled into a duel with an alan rider and after both moved up through the field i finally managed to put a gap on him on the start/finish stretch at the start of the fourth (and apparently final) lap. around the middle of the last lap one rider came around me and though i tried to hold onto his wheel i could keep in contact. after coming through the planks (inside the beer tent) towards the end of the fourth lap i noticed a bunch of riders standing around just past the finish. i hadn't looked at the lap cards since seeing "4" after the first lap, but it looked like we were finishing a lap early, since a 5th lap would have had the leader finishing closer to 55 minutes than 45.
after hosing the worst of the mud off my bike, grabbing my camera gear from the car, and a beer from the tent i checked the results and saw that i'd finished in a much better than expected 7th place (of 26 starters). stuck around to see georgia gould (kona) take the womens elite race and ryan leech (fort-gpoa) take the mens elite race with his teammate gunnar shogren taking 2nd place. congrats to fort james who took 2nd in the C race (after 3rd in yesterday's race).
more pictures from the elite race are up on flickr