Last Sunday it was 70 degrees and sunny. 1 week later? High 30's and overcast. Not bad considering a couple hours up the road got several inches of fresh snow. Chilly start for the Masters race but nothing a little embrocation can't fix. The course really suited me for this race. Plenty of elevation change. The start was moved from last years cobbled-road to the grass on a hill. Good for me as I powered up and never left the lead. Race was close for the first lap with Brenden Jenks, Tige Lamb, and Doug Plummer right behind me. I used the uphill cobbled climb on the first lap to really test the legs. I went fairly hard up that climb and the start hill climb each lap and used the rest of the course to let the legs come back. Course was fairly bumpy and I had a little too much pressure but never had any issues and felt strong the whole 40 mins. I felt pretty good after the race and recovered well, but the snap was gone from the legs and the lower back was on the verge. I started the Men's Open race with the goal of just getting a solid workout, and I got that for sure. I was 2nd up the starting hill behind Shadd Smith (I thought it was Brian Jensen), and followed him down the little descent that led to the longer twisty climb. I already knew I didn't have it so I got out of the main race line and watched about 25 guys go by in single file. I slotted in behind those guys and by now i was in the back 1/4 of the field. I just put my head down and tried to reel in 1 guy at a time. I was moving up nice, caught up as far as Nate Woodman, but with about 6 laps to go, I was shutting down quick. Lower back was gone which seems to start the ball rolling. Got so tired I wasn't getting over the barriers very pro-like. I finally pulled out with a out 2.5 laps to go. My lower back was really tight. I would have been caught anyway by the flying KCCX kids Joe Schmalz and Chris Wallace and Jeff Winkler. Winkler hung on with those 2 and got 3rd in a close sprint. My goal for the day was achieved with the Masters 35+ win. The Open field is brutally fast this year. I'd managed to be somewhat competitive in there the last few seasons but I can't (and don't really want to) make that kind of commitment this year. With no real MTB season for this past Spring/Summer, it's tough going for sure but fun anyway.
Here's the start of the Masters 35+ race
Here's the start of the Mens Open race
...and it wasn't pretty. Not quite the "Joe Houston experience" from last years race, but I did my best :-)