This was my first MTB race as an Expert, and all I can say is WOW! Those girls are FAST! I was pretty nervous going into the race, but had set my expectations accordingly (aka, I was going to be ok if I finished last ;-)). Friends and teammates alike all counseled that I would be fine, which I knew I would be - it wasn't going to be a matter of finishing, just how far back I was when I did!
It was nice to go out and pre-ride the course with Cris, and to line up with her on the start. That, however, was the last I saw of her until the race was finished. I did manage to keep the lead women in sight for about 3/4 of the first lap of the race, but once we hit the "big climb", I didn't see them again. Now, I was on my own, and knew going into my second lap, that they were 2.5 minutes ahead. Soon after, I started getting lapped by the semi-pro men, but kept plugging along, moving out of the way so as not to interfere with their race.
The third lap brought a few welcome raindrops (it was pretty dusty), and some pretty loud thunder claps. As I approached the feed zone, I asked Mike for a new bottle, and he told me I was done - they had cut our race short due to the weather. I was both happy (no more times up the hill!), and sad (I definitely had another lap in me) to be finished. And, I achieved both my starting and mid-race goals - I didn't finish last, and I didn't get lapped by my field, despite finishing 14 minutes behind Cris, who won our race ;-).
Mike's race was a little more eventful than mine. He started out well, riding close again to Johnny B for the first lap and a half, with a gap on the rest of their field. Sadly, in attempting to pass another racer, he picked up a stick and his rear derailleur disintegrated. Now most people would have packed it in at that point. Mike, however, in a quest for the series lead (he is only a few points behind the leader of the Root 66 series), decided to RUN and COAST for the remaining lap and a half of his race, finishing! He didn't gain any points, sadly, but I am really amazed and proud of his grit and determination.