Mike and I haven't raced our mountain bikes since sometime in 1999. Today, we decided to haul the MTBs down to CT with our friend Wayne to race in the Winding Trails Fat Tire Classic - the third race in the Root 66 series.
We met Teri at the venue, and caught the end of Julie's 1st MTB race before heading out to do a lap of the course.
What fun! Fast, flowing, tight, twisty - this course had it all. The terrain played to my strengths - lots of power sections, and several sandy places where keeping momentum was key. There were also a lot of tight turns that I took some risks with during the race - thankfully, all of those risks paid off ;-). I had a blast on the warmup lap, and couldn't wait for the race (3 laps of a 4.6 mile course).
On the start line, I saw friends from 'cross season - Stacey M, Sally M and Alex J. It was nice to see everyone after a long winter. Also funny to hear that so many of us are using the MTB racing to prep for 'cross season (only 4 months away!). I was also psyched to see such a big field - 19 women starting in the Sport category.
I went out hard, but got caught in a bad line in the sand right after the start, letting about 4 or 5 women get ahead of me coming out of the first hill. I stayed behind for just a little bit, before putting in a burst and passing all but one. I caught the one remaining woman, and worked to try and get even more distance. I did, however, quickly have company. She stuck to my wheel like glue for the remainder of the first lap, and no matter how fast I went (or how slow...), I couldn't shake her. She followed me into Lap 2, but fell crossing the first log. With that, I kicked some to take advantage (cold and heartless!), and build a gap.
I had to keep on top of my game for the remainder of the race, and not make any mistakes. I talked myself through entire sections, and going into the 3rd lap, even told myself that this was my race to lose, and not to let up now. I attaked the rest of the hills, and sprinted out of the corners. In the end, I crossed the line first - my first mass start win ever! The second place woman was only 20 seconds behind me, but we ended up 3 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
I was so excited! And even more excited to learn that Wayne had also won his race, with a two minute lead over his competition. We watched Teri finish her first Sport race (and a terrific one at that - rode everything and no crashing - way to go!), and then headed over to watch Mike start in the Expert Men's 40+ field. He had a strong start, and stayed that way throughout his race - also winning both his category and having the fastest time across all the Expert fields.
It was an NEBC trifecta - Expert 40+, Sport 40 - 49 and Sport Women 35+. A carload of happy, but exhausted, racers. For more pics from the day, click here.