Grey clouds scudded across the sky and drizzled a little water on the course but never followed through on the threat of more rain. The gusty autumn wind chilled the spectators and kept the racers from overheating. The course was exciting, fun, challenging and had something for everyone. We started with a straightaway that led to an off camber right turn. After a couple of tight turns in soft loam we came out of the trees and headed for a partially submerged log. You were free to go over the log in whatever mode you were most comfortable and confident in. This was a new experience for me.
In my mind I looked like this...
...but this would be a more accurate depiction.
After a couple of back-and-forth straightaways connected by 180-degree turns, the course allowed the racers to put out some speed. Then it dipped through a dry creek, winded its way through leaf-covered trails, and then over some treacherous tree roots that led to a short but deceptively steep climb. If you remembered to gear down before getting to the roots you could stand on the pedals and climb out. After that there was a very tempting descent that begged you to let 'er rip. If you did...
...the mud in the turn at the bottom made you pay.
It was time to get off for the run-up anyway.
The lengthy run-up was festooned with roots and small tree
trunks which performed double duty as footholds
and tripping hazards.
More winding through woods to get to the barriers.
After the barriers, there were parallel paths providing a great opportunity to pass. I got to use this twice during my race. The first guy I passed fought back hard. I got ahead of him but these paths lead to a 90-degree turn and I was coming in hot. I locked up the back wheel briefly enough to skid sideways so I was pointing in the right direction and hammered the pedals. Worked like a charm--this time.
Next up was a sand pit enclosed by with logs.
This fellow took the road less traveled.
Between the single log and the sand pit logs I did more bunny hopping than ever before in this race, which is saying a lot because I have never bunny hopped anything before. After the sand pit there were some particularly evil back-and-forths that went uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill, and back up again.
More back and forths through the trees just before the finish line.
I entered the Men's Masters 50+ again. Instead of the usual 12 to 15 suspects, we had 26. There were no call-ups so everyone crowded into two tightly packed rows. Except for me. I'm not that keen on rubbing shoulders and knees with other riders so I fell in behind. Once we got going I started picking people off and working my way up. I wasn't keeping track but after three laps I put a target on the next guy in front of me. He saw me coming and stepped it up a notch. I got closer on the fifth lap and as we approached the back-and-forth near the end of the lap, I smiled and pointed at him. He knew what I meant. He smiled, shook his head, and said "No". Danged if I didn't tail him for the entire last lap. After we finished he thanked me for pushing him so hard. Well, I would've felt better if...but what can you do. I ended up in 14th but I felt like a had a very good race.
This seven-year-old girl would put many adults to shame. There was a separate race for kids 8 and under that was held on a flat course that zig-zagged in the trees. She wanted no part of that. She wanted to do the real race.