Race report: Shorty #5 | Mark Gibson

The number of racers attending this week was down slightly from last week. This was partly because a lot of the High School racers were taking it easy ahead of State Champs this Sunday. However, there were still a few of the fastest NorCal kids out there, with Sean Middleton of Redwood and Robert Raffo of San Rafael amongst them. Bear Dev rider Toby Coughlan would also be there battling; and enduro rider/skills coach Ian Massey turned out too.
The previous week's race had us riding the climb into a pretty ferocious headwind, which was there again, just thankfully not quite as strong. The temp was right around 60 degrees, so conditions were almost perfect.
In the pre-race banter, team mate Phil Mooney told me that he was going to be "sitting in" taking it easy, etc., claiming he was too tired to put in any serious effort. I knew that was Mooney-speak for "I'm feeling good and so I'm going to crush and humiliate you once again".
Jim called the "A" category racers, and we lined up at the start. Once Jim got us underway, there was a little bit of bar to bar contact between a couple of us, and I ended up 4th place back behind Phil, Robert, and Sean. As we hit the pavement climb at the end of the singletrack, Phil put in an effort, but seemed to back off a little toward the top, and I was able to get in behind him and Sean. Right then Ian Massey came absolutely flying up the pavement, going to the front. I've not raced him before, and was surprised how fast he was but wondered if he could hold the pace.... 
He slowed a little at the very top of the climb. Phil got around him. I followed, Ian swerved a little and our bars got tangled, but we both stayed upright and kept going. I got in behind Phil, and then followed him down to the singletrack descent, with Sean and Robert right behind, then Ian, Stewart Watson, and team mate Mark Ingwersen. As we began the pavement climb a second time, Phil and I had opened a gap over the others. I led up the first section of pavement, then Phil told me he'd take a turn, and to get on his wheel. Well, I tried to stay on his wheel, but he's just too damn strong and took off. So much for sitting in this week Mooney! He put the hammer down on lap 3, and opened up a big gap.
I had a good sized lead over the others; Ian had totally dropped off; and I just tried to maintain a good pace. On the 5th lap I hit the pavement at the end of the singletrack descent a bit too hard, and burped some air from the rear tire. I slowed down a little to check and make sure it had enough air to keep going, which it did, but that was my slowest lap by far. I picked the pace up a little on the 6th lap, tried to finish strong, and came in 2nd overall behind Mooney, but a good 45 seconds back from him, and with a time of 22:02. Sean was a minute or so behind me, Mark another 15 seconds further back from Sean, and then Robert another 15 seconds or so back from Mark.
So, with 5 races done, the series finale is next week. I'm looking forward to completing this great local series. Thanks to Acme, Jim and Scott for organizing.