This was a very strange race in so many ways. I was a bit late getting to the venue which impeded my warm up and my pre-race bike prep. I rode a few practice warm up laps and I found myself to be very challenged by the course from both a physical and technical perspective. I changed the wheel/tire brake setup on my by bike a few days earlier and only tested with a light practice ride the previous day. I was not sure how the setup would perform in race conditions.
I could also see from my pre-ride that there were likely to be a lot of wipeouts/pile-ups on the descents and in sandy sections that may to need to be avoided during the race. I got to the start line and was pretty much in the middle of the group. Since my main goal was fitness and my secondary goal was assessing the equipment changes, I was not fighting it out for a front line start.
The start was pretty quick and I held my position through the first climb and started passing before the beginning of the descent portion. As my suspicions played out, the downhill sections and the sand took its toll on riders. Many people were remounting which improved my overall position. I took a corner too fast and suffered a wipeout-front end slide. On remounting I noticed I had bent up my derailleur and jammed my chain-I guess I should limit any wipeouts to the left side, not the right, haha. Several riders passed me. Straighten the derailleur and fix the chain...rolling again...repass on the hill right after the tarmac straightaway. Rear shifting erratic, spontaneous and no front derailleur action - not a desirable situation. On the downhill bumpy sections I kept on bottoming out my front rim (oops, forgot to check my tire pressure during my pre race bike setup.) I continued around the course and it seemed odd to me that there were so many riders practicing....at least thats what I thought they were doing. On to the barrier and run-up to start another lap - I hate running-heart rate went through the roof, totally sucking wind.
Did all that several more times including another slide out or two (or more) with the old catch it at the last second before a total yard sale... I felt like my fitness sucked, could have used an 02 tank strapped to the rig. Having very little control of my gears and a front end that was constantly bottoming out and wanting to slide out in the corners made things very challenging. Crossed the finish line. I was thankful the race was over. I was so disheartened about my poor fitness/lack of energy, the poor performance of my rig (no controlled shifting and front end wash out) that I left right after the race to go home and drown my sorrows. Since I was sure I was last, there was no point in checking my placement. At the car I did check my tire pressure. A whopping 19psi up front and 25psi in the rear-made a mental note - check the tire pressure BEFORE the race next time idiot. I assumed I was in last place because I didn't really see riders on the course, other than those that were practicing.
I gathered up my courage to check my finish this morning. A DFL isn never the end of the world-maybe better than a DNF. To my amazement I got 4th. I guess the people I thought were practicing were actually racing, never really noticed their numbers...they were all so nice and gave me plenty of room to pass. I bet this never happens again.