So this was the big weekend. The first Derailer race on Saturday and the second XXC on Sunday. I really did not know what to expect from either race.
Saturday morning I loaded up my gear, picked up Allen, and met Chris at his house. We packed everything into Chris's jeep and we were off for Danville. Jimmy was driving down later. He had to leave after the race to go to work. We arrived with about an hour and a half to set up and warm up. Of course we flew the Jolly Roger flags from our canopy. Jen showed up soon after. We all got registered. Jen was racing Sport, Allen raced Singlespeed, Chris and Jimmy raced Novice, and I raced Sport. Soon it was time to line up and get ready to go. The experts started at 11:00. My group left at 11:06. I sprinted from the start to try to get close to the front going into the woods. There was a short gravel road before the singletrack. As we neared the entrance, I looked over to see that 3 riders were stacked up end to end on my right. I did not want to fall back to fourth, so I pushed harder and got the lead. Just inside the woods there were 3 or 4 quick, deep rollercoaster sections back to back. having rode the course last week, i knew that I could hit them hard. When the trail flattened a little, I was a good 50 yards ahead. Soon after, we all got stuck behind two 18-35 Sport riders who had left a minute before us and were very slow. We all stacked up behind them until they finally pulled over to let everyone pass. With the pack breathing down my back I pushed hard for a couple miles until they were no longer in sight. This is my usual strategy, get a good lead and then maintain it. I felt good through most of the race. The next thing that I knew, I had been going for over an hour and I knew that there was not too much more. I had pass many younger Sport riders and some SS riders (Shake and Bake!) :). There was a rider ahead of me that I just could not catch. I was getting tired on the last mile or two. When I came out into the field, I saw two riders sprinting for the finish. I came in soon after. Within a few minutes Allen was finishing. I knew that I had won my age group. I went and got my camera so I could get some video of Jen, Jimmy and Chris finishing. I was so surprised and happy. I had no idea that I could do so well in Sport. Allen pulled out a fourth place finish in SS, which is an open class that draws many expert riders. Jen came in third. Jimmy got third and Chris got fourth in Novice. Great job to all my friends! As it turns out, I had another surprise coming. The two rider that I saw sprinting at the end, were the top two in 18-35 Sport. I finished 30 seconds behind them, but they started 1 minute before me. That meant that I had a faster time. I had the fastest time of all the Sport riders. I could have died from shock. Unfortunately the race organizers got mixed up on the times and gave my overall trophy to someone else, but after finding their mistake. They are going to send my trophy to me. It was a great day. Now I need to back it up in Bedford in two weeks. I going to try not to put too much pressure on myself. I am just going to ride hard and see what happens.
As if that was not enough. Early Sunday morning, I picked up Allen again and we headed off to Douthat State Park to tacked the XXC race. This race was the second in the Virginia State Championship Double XC series. It started at 9:30 and ended after riding 41 miles through some of the most beautiful trails that I have seen. The first 5 miles was steady climb to the top of Middle Mountain. We soon broke off from the Sport/Expert loop and went way out into the National Forest. Allen and I had decided to ride together to keep each other motivated. About 10 miles in I had to fix a flat tire. Allen waited for me. Then before the halfway point, I was starting to bonk. After reating a bit and eating some solid food, I was starting to feel better. The trail were awesome. So much more ridable than Dragon's Back. There were still a lot of hike-a-bikes, but overall they were way better. The downhills were long and fast. Even though we slid through some switchbacks, neither of us wrecked. There were some spectacular views from the ridgelines. We were finally nearing the end. Both of us were spent. We were almost out of water, after refilling once, and the last short climb felt like the ealier huge mountains. We came in to the finish with a sprint and crossed the line at the same time. It had been 41 miles, 8400 feet of vertical climbing, and 7 hours worth of riding. It was a great accomplishment. Congratulations to Kelly, Julie, Jason, Shawn, and his wife for doing the XXC too. And Davy, who has two second place finishes in the Sport division, putting him in first overall with one race to go.
I feel extremely accomplished. After a surprising Derailer finish, we completed an ultra endurance race. Apparently, I am getting noticed. This evening, while talking to Brandon at Bikes Unlimited, he gave me a BU jersey to wear at some of the races. I'll wear a free jersey and advertise for them, and it has Trek on it. But at the same time, if Blackackwater has something I like, I will buy it from Davy. There are good people in both shops. The only down-side to the weekend was that I did not see Jess and Tyler much. I missed them.
Bedford is on the way and it's time to ride!
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