Now that was my kind of course. DCMTB & Family Bike's teamed up again to bring the latest edition of this popular race. Some refer to it as the "Queen" of the MABRA series and I can certainly see why. Held on the campus of the Armed Services Retirement Home in DC, this race saw large fields, a huge spectator gallery and some new categories.
The gang at DCMTB designed the course and it was well suited for those of us from the fat tire crowd. Very punchy course with lots of tight, twisty, technical turns and very few wide open "power" sections. Personally, I like that type of course. It levels the playing field and let's us dirty mountain-bikers have some fun. I didn't do the race last year, but, I heard they removed a long power section on the far side of the course. With only one gear, competing against guys with many, I was glad to hear of its removal. I was probably a little under-geared for the race (still had my Iron Cross gear), but, I didn't have time to change it and had to run what I brung. Even with my early registration, I was several rows back and had some people to pass if I wanted to do well. With a good warm-up, I hit it hard at the start and tried to pass as many people on the road section as possible, before things got jammed up on the course. I moved up quickly, found a good position and tried to settle in for the next 45 minutes. The legs felt great, my tires were holding the line and I was having fun out on that technical course.
Rubbing is racing and there was no shortage of racing. I almost got forced into a tree on one turn and was shut down once entering a run-up. Of course there was the usual "shoulder to shoulder" action in a number of turns. That's the kind of stuff I live for and apparently a lot of other guys feel the same way. Some really great competition without any attitude. Just a bunch of guys turning themselves inside-out on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Being fairly new to Cross, I learn something new with each and every race. Today's lesson: There is no recovery if you want to do well. You pin it and keep it pinned until you cross the finish or explode, whichever comes first. Every time I tried to ease back the throttle, I'd hear the guy behind me make up some ground or the guy in front open the gap a little. As long as the legs would allow, I pushed them as hard as I could. My lesson paid off with my best results to date. 18th over-all in the Master 35/45+ B race with a 4th place in my age group (guys with gray hair).
That was the first of two races for me that day and the next race was a dedicated Single Speed category. I'm glad to see the race promoters adding the SS Cat to the races, I just wish it wasn't 5 hours after my first race. Especially when consider Dogfish Head is one of the sponsors and primary supplier of all things hoppy. I tried to be good, I mixed equal parts 60 minute with equal parts H20, not together mind you ,but, in close proximity. My good friends at the Bike Lane let me hang out in their pit and I was able to get additional hydration in the form of some Michelob Ultra. If it's good enough for Lance.......
Anyway, so the family shows up in the afternoon and we got to watch the ladies race and then the fast guys. Jackie had an endless supply of lollipops and had to pee every 4.5 minutes. So, if you saw a guy holding the hand of a 4 year old in front of the porta-potti's and it looked like he was ALWAYS there, it was me....and Jackie. Eventually it was time for me to kit up and prepare for my second race, the single speed class. Even after my long break, the legs felt a little dead. Not completely shot, but, the snap was gone. There were a number of guys from the 1/2/3 race lined up and a few guys with fresh legs who were there solely for the SS race. Cargo Mike, DC Tony, DKEG, Seibold, Wheaton and Foley, to name a few, were on the line and it was great to be racing with these guys again. Someone mentioned a 3 lap prologue and there were several guys that thought that was a great idea, in theory. I guess no one took him seriously because they all hit it hard from the start. Neiters jumped out front, after just finishing the A race, and left a few of us in a cloud of dust, literally. Cargo Mike dropped his chain at some point and was able to get back in the game pretty quickly. DC Tony took off and his silhouette became smaller as the race progressed. My legs just were not in the hunt and I bobbled on a few of the run-ups. I was able to hold a few guys off, but, it wasn't the race I had run earlier. I managed 10th and I should be happy considering the competition.
One highlight, and another first for the race, was the tandem competition. This was the final race of the day and was wildly entertaining. Throw some of the best local cross racers on a bike built for two and how could be anything else? Driscoll & Blair from the AFC team, Neiters & Dombrowski from Haymarket, the Tom Tom Club of O'Donnell & Bartlett, the Klasmeier's, Biggs & a few more. Run-ups, twisty turns and a few bikes caught air. It was a spectacle I was glad I caught. DKEG and I are already keeping our eyes open for a bike, er tandem. Look out DCCX 2011!