Perfect weather for racing- mid 60s and bluebird. Katie, my Dad and I drove to Taunton MA to race the Rocky Woods Lung Challenge. We had almost no information about the course other than the promoters short description- "The 5.1 mile course is a loop with mostly technical single track and some double track sections to allow for passing. The terrain has some rocky sections, as the name implies, and has some rolling hills."
We arrived a few hours before our 1:30pm start and went to the start/finish line to watch the CAT 1 racers. We instantly realized their lap times were far longer than they should have been (around 40-45 minutes), their were lots of mechanical and flatted out riders, and some folks were covered in mud. COVERED.
Hmmmm….. What is this course going to be like? Mud-fest? Techy? There was really no way to pre-ride the course with the setup and race going on so we just pulled any info from riders we could. Turns out the course was more like 6.7miles per lap and there was rumor of mud pits 2-3 feet deep. Great!
Warmed up on pavement and mostly flat roads which is always strange but it did the trick. My left pedal felt loose and I might need to replace that part despite trying to tighten it but I didn't have any spares with me so I'll have to race it.
Lined up at 130pm with 25+ racers. I had a bit of a slow start and sucked a wheel in 5th or 6th position and we almost instantly hit single track. The riding was fun and flowy with lots of "friendly rocks". I passed a few folks and 1/4 of the way in was in 4th position holding the wheel in front of me tight. He lost steam and I passed him somewhere in there. Passing was tough as the single track was tight but there were several spots it was possible.
From this point I had a big gap to close to get to the lead pack. After hammering for 10-15 minutes I caught the 2nd place rider and passed him when he had a snafu on a techy section. Near the lap point (40 mins) I saw the leader and hammered to catch his wheel. I closed the gap and felt pretty proud of my effort but knew I had to maintain for the rest of this 7 mile lap.
At this point there were three of us, I was in position 2, and we rode a great fast paced group ride with clean riding. Half-way through the lap I knew we had some difficult mud pits that could present huge opportunity or obstacles. I hit one so badly on my first lap I went knee deep in mud and came to a quick stop. I also knew there was a big field we had to ride through and I wanted to draft a rider here and then attack after.
The nastiest of the mud pits came and the leader went right in and I followed in fear he would ride away with it. We both got stuck and the 3rd rider passed us. DAMN. We ran our bikes out of the mud and hammered to catch him. We were moving- my GPS later showed I hit 25 mph on some sections.
Unfortunately, he put in too large of a gap and we couldn't close it. We'd all finish within seconds as we sprinted to the finish line. I finished 3rd with a time of 01:23:32. GREAT RACE and great folks to race with. I'm happy to ride with good riders like them any day.
Waited for Katie to finish her race and of course she finished with a huge smile. She put out a great effort and some good lap times for this course. She was really racing today and battled to finish in 4th place.
A Big thanks to my DAD who was there to help with water hand-ups if needed, photog'ing, and the support! See ya at Winding Trails next weekend!