I've been looking forward to this race for a while, crappy weather and rally duty was keeping me off the bike more than I'd like, all the crazy debauchery that comes with rally weekend wasn't doing much good for my fitness level either, and the stress was just icing on the cake.
Finally, I got to put all that behind me, and spend a weekend up in Copper Harbor, racing bikes, hanging out with friends, and just generally having a good time.
I knew the first race was going to be a little tough, technically- so I packed the single speed 29er. Turned out to be an excellent choice- it really suited the rough, rooted sections and the gearing worked out OK for the hills. Given the technical nature of the course, no real drama played out in this race. I mostly hung with the second pack until the 2nd to the last lap when they all discovered their big rings and ditched the single speed doofus. On the final lap, I figured "what the hell" and took a Blatz handoff from Andrew. After slamming half a can of beer, I was energized/stupid enough to close the gap in the technical section, but got ditched again on the hill. Managed to hang in there for yet another 7th place.
Afterwards, we all kicked back at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for dinner, music, and the toughest battle of the weekend- the race to the end of the bar's supply of Bell's Two Hearted Ale. I'd like to think I put forth a valiant effort, but when things got fierce, I bailed in the interest of self preservation and hit the sack early. It must have been a tough fight- several people didn't make the start line for Sunday morning's race.
Sunday found us on a true cyclocross course- lots of places to go really fast and a couple of obstacles to really test your sprinting skills. I figured any shot at the podium for the season was rapidly slipping out of my grasp, so I'd use the remaining races to try and hone my skills. This time, I'd try my best at getting the holeshot. Didn't work, but I was solidly in the lead pack until a tussle shortly after the start killed my momentum and knocked me back a few places. Spent the first two laps trying to catch the lead pack and just couldn't do it, so I hung out where I was to see what developed. Had a great race with somebody who's name I can't remember for a couple of laps- I'd sit on his wheel for an entire lap and then pass him in the sandpit just for grins. I'd back off and let him take the lead again, even more driven to drop me. About the third time I flew past him in the sand pit and pulled my crazy, almost crashing dismount, he backed off and let me go.
Went into the final couple laps duking it out with Bill and Chris, but honestly- we were all so blown- it wasn't much of a fight. I managed to dig deep enough to pull past them for a 7th place again.
Although this puts me fourth in the championships now, I think I'm pretty firmly out of contention once people can drop their lowest score. The odds of me getting on the podium at a race aren't outside the realm of possibility, after all- I've beaten several of those who've managed to do so recently- but it would take a rather unfortunate streak of luck for any of the current top three to lose their place to me. I think this will be a good opportunity to hone my skills a bit and try new things. At the very least, I'll do my best to make sure the Men's Bee champions don't get a free ride from here on out. :)
And Chris was out with camera in tow again, with the usual damn cool results...