It's hard to believe that we have had 6 weeks of shorty races, and the series is over for another year (its 10th year). I'm really going to miss what has been a super fun regular mid-week race and the boost it has given my fitness. It's been great hanging out with regulars, getting to know people, and taking lots of crap from Mooney! I'm stoked to have been able to make it to all 6 of the races this year, having missed a couple last year.
This being the final race of the series, with double points on offer, a cookout, and podium places to be determined, there was a great turnout of racers this week and a party atmosphere. I arrived and checked out the B race which was getting good support from the spectators. I was surprised to see Mooney hanging out in his civvies spectating, and was suitably fake disappointed for him that he could not race--I've suffered enough humiliation at his hands already this season!
So, lining up at the start were a bunch of local hotshot High School racers including Sebastian Dow (San Marin) who placed 3rd overall for the season in Varsity; Sean Middleton (Redwood), fresh off wins at the NorCal Champs a couple weeks ago, and a huge win at State Champs this past weekend; Robert Raffo (San Rafael) who bagged a 4th place in JV at State Champs; Santiago Maldonado Sciutti (San Rafael) 3rd place at States in Sophmore, and 1st place in the best name category; varsity rider Liam Gima-Lange (SF); Bear Dev rider Toby Coughlan; and team mates Greg Alsterlind, Mark Ingwersen, Danny MacNaughton, Wilson Perry, Shiloh, and Gavin Parnes.
Conditions for the race were good: cool temps, and some wind but much less than the previous 2 weeks. The start was a bit of a mess for me as I was unable to get clipped in and ended up around 4th or 5th place going into the singletrack, although thanks to Greg for graciously letting me slot in ahead of him. Sebastian was even further back, but came around on the grass and passed a bunch of us including me. Danny led the way down the singletrack, followed by Robert and someone else, then Sebastian, then me, with Wilson and Sean right behind. Danny blasted up the paved road with Sebastian trying to close the gap, Robert and me attempting to get back on their wheels so as not to get left out in the headwind on the climb. Toward the top, Danny faded a little with Sebastian, Robert, and me getting around him before the descent. We ended the 1st lap in that order, with Wilson and Sean right behind Danny.
On the singletrack I could see that Sebastian was trying to gap Robert and me. He and I both knew if he had a gap at the start of the climb it was game over so I put in an effort and passed Robert along the grass before we headed down. I was able to get on Sebastian's wheel by the end of the descent, and then got in behind him on the climb and held on. Robert put in a strong effort on the climb and was able to get back to us. So, at the end of lap 2, we were a group of 3, with a small gap of maybe 10 seconds over Sean, Liam, Wilson, and Danny.
On the 3rd lap, Sebastian and I hammered the downhill section, and by the start of the climb got a few seconds on Robert. That was enough to make it count, and he was not able to get back to us on the climb. I was feeling OK at that point, although not quite strong enough to do much other than hang on to Sebastian's wheel, trying to keep out of the wind, and not let him get away when he upped the pace, which he was doing frequently to try and get rid of me. He had a few seconds on me at the end of lap 3, but I knew I could let him have that and get back to him by the end of the descent, which is what happened. Again, I just tried to stay on his wheel when climbing on lap 4, and was able to do so. He had the same gap of a couple seconds at the end of lap 4, but once more I had caught right back up to him by the end of the descent on lap 5. However, when we hit the climb, by which point we were catching and lapping the stragglers, he drafted behind Dyllan Powell (Roaring Mouse rider who's fast but had broken his chain at the start) for a couple seconds before attacking, and this time made it stick. I didn't have the legs to stay with him, and he gapped me, finishing the lap 7-8 seconds ahead of me. That was pretty much game over, as he hammered the final lap, and I backed off a little, completing a relatively slow lap some 20 seconds behind, but in 2nd place overall, in a time of 21:53, the 2nd fastest of my 6 races this season. Sean came in around 25 seconds behind me, followed by Robert, then Liam, Wilson, and then Danny.
It was a fun race, and a good indicator of where I am and the work I need to do to be able to up my short track game.
The cookout and podiums followed, with some awesome swag given out by Acme Bikes. Next up for me is the Wente 8 hour race coming up in about 10 days. So I'm going from one end of the racing spectrum to the other.....
A huge thanks to Jim and Scott of Acme Bikes for all their hard work in organizing this local race series, which I will miss greatly until next season. Grass roots racing at its best!