After two days of riding the SS MTB, I wasn't really sure how I would fare. I set my goal on not getting dropped - still ambitious with a group that included several strong racers from SpinArts, Corner Cycle and MBRC. As we lined up, I saw that I was also going to have teammates in the race, but knew that there would be no tactics from me - I just needed to sit in, and I had absolutely no illusions of contesting the finish.
The atmosphere on the line was light. I know many of the men in this field, and they all really made me feel welcome. Bill, the USAC official also made me feel part of the group, changing his address of the group as "gentlemen" to "riders" ;). He also told me to be nice to the boys - not something any of them was going to have to worry about.
For the first lap, the pace seemed fairly reasonable to me, despite the one significant climb right before the finish. Unfortunately, that was the end of that, and the pace quickly accelerated for the remainder of the race. I managed to hang in, making up places in the pack as we went downhill, and losing them all back on the climb. With 6 laps to go, a gap opened in front of me on the climb, and I presumed I was done. I didn't want to get dropped, though, and put in a fairly big effort to chase back onto the group.
I learned to try to be nearer to the front of the pack going into the hill, which allowed me to slip backwards just a little going up without getting dropped. I felt confident, and wasn't nervous about riding with such steady riders, despite the close quarters. When the bell rang for the final lap and I was still in the pack, I knew that I had it made to make it to the finish! The pace surged, and I went with everyone else, even managing to pass a few on the final climb, and one just before the finish line! Yahoo! In the end, I managed to finish the 27 miles 26th out of 37 starters, with an average speed approaching 24 mph! Oh - and I only got called out once. In the neutral start, there was a crevasse in the pavement and I moved to the left to avoid the wheel-sucking hole. Behind me, I heard Paul C tell me to hold my line ;).
Mike also raced at Norwell, first in the 35+ race where he ended up in a chase group that unfortunately had teammates of those in the front. That meant that few riders in his group wanted to (or could) do any work, leaving him to struggle in a chase. He did finish second in the field sprint in that race.
After registering for the 3/4 race as well, he decided he wasn't going to do that one since he had really tired himself in the first race (and the SS riding that we did tool a toll on him as well). He did line up for the race, however, in a strong field with a good-sized NEBC team represented. He finished with the pack in that race, still looking strong, and contributed to the NEBC win (Peter C took first and Scott B finished 4th).