Heat was a factor Saturday when the Capt'n and I raced at Turtletown Pond. It was 90 degrees in the shade at the 1:10 pm start time. The course is an 11 mile lap with two hills being the main features, Oak Hill, a 1 mile 200' vert climb at the start of the lap and a 150' 20% grade wall at about the 8 mile mark.There was a full field of over 40 guys and an official "neutral" first climb up Oak Hill. Then the racing began. The pace was high with some trying to get off the front but the breaks were consistently brought back. I rode on point only once, feeling myself slow the group when facing the wind. There were plenty who thought riding point was the goal, so the pace remained high and hot. This year the promoter added Hot Hole Pond Rd. with the wall coming 3/4 of the way through the lap. It was enough to cull the weaker riders - thankfully since a lot of them were riding willy nilly all over the gruppo's safety zones. "Hey #554, good god man - stay straight PLEASE!" There was still a group of 20 or so after two laps. Last lap: I'm calling for the two on the front to step up the pace on Oak Hill as I'm trapped behind them but they let me through and I'm pushing on the front, coming together over the top since the wind would prohibit me from getting away 10 miles from the finish. There are about 10 of us that seem quite strong in a gruppo of 20 or so and we're doing most of the work. Just before we climb the wall one last time, 1 rider goes off the front. The Capt'n rides up alongside and past me. I'm wondering if he's gonna pull/block/crack open a fresh pack o' Marlboros or? I decide now is the time, ease by and attack the hill. I get to the top and look into the faces just behind me. Tired and haggard! Good! I'm gooooone, chasing and gaining on the guy in blue over the next 2 1/2 miles, head down in TT mode, gruppo chasing. Dang! After a couple miles the group comes over me on the looong downhill 500 yards from the finish. I slot into 7th position, recover quickly and am set up on the road's yellow line in a near-perfect sprint position. We are subject to a 200M yellow line rule so everyone has to wait, wait, wait to cross the middle of the road and explode in a bunch sprint. SOB! A bunch sprint amongst a bunch of newbies, greaaaaat. But at 300 yards out, 5 guys take off left, crossing the road's midline and box me in as the rest respond to my right and the two guys in front of me touch wheels!!! Rubbing, rubbing...EeeeecccKKKKK!!!!!! Brakes! Stablilize! Everyone is still up and I roll across in 13th and relax, having dodged a bloody takedown. Others got gauzed and some carried off earlier in the day; the ambulance crew kept busy since a few crashes happened with the downhill bunch finishes full of New England's Mario Cippolinis.
I felt a bit queasy under the heat a couple of times but my body came up some strong climbing that set some of the race's tone. If it had only finished with the final Oak Hill climb as in past years... ;>)After the close call and nervous riding, I can't wait for some MTB racing! Bolted home afterward to pack and drive to Maryland and back Sunday/Monday for fam,ily's meber's passing. I had a MTBer-only moment when a car with two Greenbriar Challenge race-plated MTB's atop it pass me on 695 late Saturday. Only we understand. Later.
Hmmm, it must be later:I arrived homeafter work last night early and The Clayton pulled up in front of the house for a proper MTB ride. After the road race, driving, funeral and catch up, it was just the Rx I needed to break out of the accumulated funk. Dirt, long climbs, rumbly granite laden twisties and power. We headed into the sunny 60's, trees bursting with lime and chartreuse in the breeze. God inspiring beauty blowing right through me.
We opted for the snowmobile trail wilderness ride. I ended up on my back climbing the knobby power line off of Deer Meadow straight up tip over backward on the super steep that was meant for downhill travel over ledginess. Hardy har har and WTF? all at the same time. Climbed the rest after remounting, passing a heaving Clayton who just plain tuckered out before the top, but not for long. The rest of the ride was an assortment of dusty downhills on branch covered doubletrack and twisty navigation off of Weir Rd finishing out along the Merrimack River singletrack well into nightfall. The power was there for the entire ride. The skills showing and my hands throbbing with trail demands greater than what they'd been accustomed to. A proper ride. Skin intact. Springtime.
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