|PJ being PJ at HVD.|
That race conflict hasn't changed this season, however we found ourselves sucked into the series. Really sucked is the wrong term. After all, the Root 66 race series promoters, Jill and Chris, are two of the nicest people that we know. They put on great events and we truly love supporting them. We have also been having fun with the MTB racing this season and honestly enjoy seeing all of the really great folks. Therefore, we are going to finish out the series with them.
The past couple of weekends have included series races, first the Hodges Village Dam race in Oxford, MA and then the Millstone Grind race in Websterville, VT this past weekend. We have done the former every year since 2008, the year that we got back into MTB racing but have never raced or ridden Millstone. Given that we have the camp in Kirby, which is about an hour from Millstone, we though this would be a good time to give it a go.
Hodges Village Dam MTB Race
|Cathy charging hard, as always.|
|Mike H. turning it over on the SS.|
The course was dry and in very good shape, especially compared top past seasons races. Off the start as Frankie literally crushed it, I could see those visions coming true. The Cat1 40-49 field had the biggest turnout for the race. We also have the deepest with literally any number of guys who have viable potential to win on any given day. Anyhow, Frankie pegged it at the start and it was all that I could do to chase up to follow him. He kept on the gas hard for the entire first half of the lap, leaving me gasping, reeling and unable to respond. I just tried to stay attached.
|Cathy and Sarah.|
Just as all seemed hopeless, Frankie caught his son Brendan and another racer from Brendan's field. This was just enough that I managed to bridge a bit closer. Then on a super steep, rooted uphill with two lines, they rode right, which required the granny gear, and I ran left, which brought me closer still. By the time we hit the open grassy single-track power section I was attached. A good half minute sitting in and I felt a little better.
|Women Cat1 35+ podium.|
|Men Cat1 40-49 podium.|
To my surprise Frankie was not giving chase. I was dumbfounded, literally shocked. I wasn't sure what was up or what to make of it and still wonder in the back of my mind. Maybe he really did leave it all out there and had no sprint left. Guess I'll never know but I have to admit, I was looking forward to a sprint throw-down at the end. I admire and respect Frankie more than any bike racer I know. He helped me become the cyclist that I am today. There is no shame in getting beaten by someone of that caliber given his accomplishments. It has happened to me many times in the past and I can tell for sure, the day is soon coming for me once again.
Enough about me, Cathy had the race of the day. She has been riding super strong and doing really well but the results have eluded her. The last race it was because of a stupid mechanical that took her out of the lead and dropped her back into third. Still an excellent result but not what it should have been. At this race however things went a little better for her. She rode strong and clean and the bike held together. All through the race she was back and forth with Sarah, the under 35 leader. This made for a great race and in the end Cathy took the win overall. I was so happy for her and so proud, as always.
Millstone Grind MTB Race
|View from the venue.|
We also decided to take it easy last week in terms of riding. To put it mildly, I'm beat. My motivation is pretty close to nil in fact. Part of this is that I've been super busy trying to get things squared away here, there and the other place. This had led to lots of traveling, something that I am really bad at and which really takes a toll on my body. I'm constantly sore, as much if not more from the travel as from the riding. Could that with the extra long season that in all honestly, never ended from last season and there you have it. I decided that I was going to take this race a little less seriously and try and have some fun with it. A good way to do that i thought was to ride my single-speed because riding single-speeds is way more fun.
|Cathy on the final stretch.|
We got there with lots of time and got out to pre-ride the first half of the course after the wave of marathon racers went off. The course was really, really good stuff and a whole lot of fun. Lots of fast and flowy with chunks of granite and leftover snatch cables from the old quarry days left in place. There were also lots of short, steep little grunt ups and some technical sections both up and down which posed endless challenges. The flow and gearing (34x19) on my Kona Big Unit 29er seemed perfect in the pre-ride so we were good to go. Back to the van I sat patiently with my legs up waiting for the start time to approach. Soon it was time to take the line.
The lead changed shortly as Rich L. dropped back a bit and first Phil and then Craig went to the front and hammered like nobody's business. I was really impressed with how well Craig was moving. He led into the first steep, grassy single-track climb. Rich P. was second and I was right behind Rich. Unfortunately, too closer behind and as the pace proved a challenge with my gear selection, I rubbed his rear tire with my front not once but twice. I needed to go a little faster to turn the gear over so went out into the grass and with all I could muster passed up to the lead. A gap opened and I got some room to move. I struggled with some of the technical sections as I just wasn't getting the flow down on the new to me trails. This was compounded greatly when we started the second section of trail, which I hadn't seen at all. Phil quickly chased up to me and was dogging me badly.
I was faster on the ups and power sections but he was crazy smooth and fast through the technical stuff. Home court advantage proved to be handy indeed. I finally conceded to him and he passed and promptly dropped me like I was standing still. Ugh. I had no good answer. I was working super hard, if not efficiently, braking hard and then sprinting out of the corners, or over, around and up the rocks and roots. Once again I found myself flailing aimlessly.
|Men's Cat1 40-49 podium.|
By the end of the second lap I caught up to Kyler from the Gould Academy team in Bethel. He was having a great race and sitting strongly in second place. I was feeling pretty good, though the legs were certainly stinging from the effort. I had about a twenty second lead which wasn't much, but I was hoping that if I could keep it steady for the third and final lap that it would be enough. Parts of the course proved a challenge on the last lap for sure and I could only hope that the small lead I'd clawed out would hold. Luckily for me, everything worked out in my favor.
|Women's Cat1 35+ podium.|
Cathy had a good ride as well but was not quite feeling the love. She enjoyed the course but found it a little more challenging. This led to a rash of crashes. Some times, no matter how hard you struggle, you just can't break free. "Quicksand", to quote Keanu in the Replacements. Still, she finished and she finished strong. Never quit, that is what sets her apart from most and is why I admire her so.