Mike and I did this race last year, and we loved it! It is very technical - more of a mountain bike course really than something you would find for 'cross. The course runs through a working farm, so besides running between the rows of blueberries and through the pumpkin patch, you also pass the donkeys, ducks and alpacas, as well as having to ride up freshly tilled garden rows, through a long sand pit, and up two loose, sandy run-ups. This year, to add to the excitement, there was a section of the course that skirted a paddock - the trail was fresh and narrow, with 90 degree turns that had an [electrified] fence on one side, and trees on the other, leaving little more than a bike width of trail!
We arrived fairly early as I wanted to watch the beginner women's race (and parking was going to be an issue). Linda from Sandwich was doing her first ever cross race, and I wanted to be able to cheer her on. She was nervous before the start, and wasn't really sure what to expect. She looked really strong throughout the race, and finished with a huge smile, and 6th out of 8 racers! Congratulations, Linda, on a terrific first race! I do hope to see you and Brian at one or two more events this season, and thanks so much for the cheering during my race.
Mike's race was next - Masters 35+. As always, this is a tough field, and today was no different, with the likes of Mark McCormack taking the start (and the win). Mike had a terrific race, however, and ended up finishing 10th/30 in his field! I was so proud of him for doing so well.
I set off in the Women's Open race later in the day, and it was HOT by then. Despite this not being a USAC-sanctioned race, there were a lot of women lined up at the start to give this one a go. I lined up in the front row and still had a TERRIBLE start up the hill, and then got caught in traffic/crash going into the first narrow singletrack. After that sorted out, we headed for the tight paddock section of the course. Although everyone was able to ride it, the woman who had crashed got very impatient with me for going slower than she would have liked - oh well!
I got passed by a couple of the women in the first couple of laps, and managed to pass one other racer. From there, I was really on my own, riding my own race. When I looked up part way through and saw that we had 5 laps to go, I couldn't believe it - it felt like I had already been riding forever, but in reality, it had only been 30 mins...
I managed to ride the entire sand pit on my first lap, but not once after that. I also quickly started making mistakes - waiting too long to dismount in the sand, and MAJOR issues remounting at the top of the run-up that followed it. I was glad there was often no one up there to see me - it would have been embarrasing.
At one point, a junior racer passed me, and I wondered where he had come from, since I hadn't seen him coming up on me from anywhere. I also thought to myself that he must have picked it up if he had been riding behind me that whole time. It took a half a lap more of riding for me to realize I had just been LAPPED. DOH! Shortly thereafter, I got lapped by the women's race leader, Rebecca, as well - to me, this was great news - one less lap to ride! YAHOO!
After either 8 or 9 laps, the race was finally done. I finished 12th of 18 women and was excited to find out that I was apparently one of the few who managed to stay upright during the race - I saw bloody elbows and knees, and one of the women managed to crack her helmet on the concrete wall just past the barriers. She was ok (and raced again the next day).
Oh, and lesson learned? Beer is NOT a good recovery drink, even if you are watching the next racers coming over the barriers ;-).
After the race, we got to hang with our good friends Mike and Jennifer. They live full time in CA, buthave a house in Falmouth, and our visits conincidd perfectly. They came out to cheer us on at our race, and then we managed a walk on the beach and some catching up time before heading home to race again on Sunday.