Here's Csaba's take on the race:
Horning's was hard but fun overall.
I think the race ran longer than last year, maybe ~3 hrs for 3 laps in
the sport class? My first lap was around 45mins, but I lost track
after that. My computer's auto-lap function went a bit wild and
tallied 20 laps by the time I was done.
I started the race in the #2 spot for the neutral roll-out. The (what
seemed like) horde of riders passing me was rather disconcerting once
the race got underway, but I had no interest in redlining just to keep
up. I chose to ride hard, but paced myself to conserve energy for the
muck I expected later on the course.
I lost contact with the pack that had gone by and focused on keeping
up with two single-speeder that were dueling it out in front of me.
It was a further disappointment to see Jeff and Greg (who had started
behind me) starting to catch up with me. I thought I was continuing
to work my way backwards through the pack. The disappointment was
replaced a bit later by some confusion as I caught up and passed first
one and then another expert rider (who'd started before me). The
confusion was because this was a new situation for me given my
performance in races in the past year or so. I'd become more
accustomed to being lapped by the experts than catching them. :-) I
decided that Jeff must be doing really well and maybe I'm not doing so
bad after all. This more positive outlook gave me the encouragement
to keep pushing hard.
While Jeff eventually passed me, I lost track of Greg, probably KO-d
by then with his mechanical difficulties. The field was pretty spread
out at this point. There were times when it felt like I was riding
all alone, which was great for picking lines through the really
sketchy sections. I only had one mishap, when my front tire slipped
out from under me and I slid into a tree. I wasn't going very fast
and didn't suffer any damage.
While my race plan has typically been similar to Fergus' when it comes
to fueling, I had the good fortune to park next to a slow uphill
portion of the course. I took advantage of that by leaving a cache of
water bottles next to the course, filled with my favorite sugar water.
I made sure to finish off one bottle per lap, plus gulped down the
Clif shots being handed out at the finish line on each lap. I'm
really glad I followed JB's mantra of fuelling early and often as the
race ran longer than I had expected it to.
Towards the end of my last lap, the leading experts finally did lap
me. I think the top three went by. No disappointment there though,
because I was on the home stretch by then. The best part of the race
for me was when near the end of the 3rd lap, I got to pass the rider
who had been in the #1 spot at the start, who I'd lost contact with
early on the 1st lap.
What a difference a bit of training makes. Thank you JB and teammates
for getting me out and back from Rock Creek. It was good enough for a
10th place finish, much better than my 30th last year with zero training.
BTW, I spoke with Mr. (Bob?) Horning a couple of times over the course
of the weekend. Sounds like he's thinking about opening up the trails
to riding and hiking in the summer.
Jeff and Dave didn't submit their race reports by my publishing deadline, and will be docked accordingly on their next Cyclisme paycheck. I will take the liberty though, to summarize their experiences.
Jeff: Mud, hah! This isn't mud! When I was a kid, we had real mud! Let me out there, I'll rip their legs off!!! (OK, that's me, not Jeff) Anyway, Jeff was leading our Sport 40+ group neutral start, and gave very little ground for the 2.5 hour race duration. I stuck with him (well, pretty close anyway) through the first lap and a half, knowing my only chance to pass would be if he crashed or sketched on some technical stuff. No dice, Jeff was riding fast and clean to a solid 2nd place!
I meanwhile, had a rear derailleur into the spokes problem that ended my race after about 1.25 laps.
Dave: Mud, dude, it sucks riding in this crap with my old cantilevered, crappy tired, no traction, mud velcro bomb that obviously won't let me stay on top of it, bike. (OK, that's me again, and I'm allowed artistic license here). Congrats to Dave though, for first blood drawn on the day!!
Here's Jeff's podium shot:
So now it's time to hear from Fergus:
The course was muddy. And the mud changed throughout the course. Chunky globs with pine needles in them, to a soufflé crust over hard clay on some downhills, to bright orange clay which was like peanut butter.
I had the wrong gearing for the day. I had a 2:1 ratio which vexed me before the start. Then as we got going I realized my disadvantage could be turned to an advantage. The high gearing forced me to get off more than most people and I ran a bit and walked much of the course. I passed many people while they were in their granny gears. And I was passed by many people in their granny gears (not beginner cat).
The course had steep uphills and very steep downhills which I sometimes walked or, "skied."
Ten miles shouldn't take more than an hour. Nope! Two laps took me one hour and half? I finished at 12:50 but I don't know when we launched. My point is that it took much longer than I thought. I can do without food or water for an hour. I bonked. I became lightheaded and spacy and started second guessing my speed, etc. Two thirds the way through the last lap, I passed some spectators and called out, "I'm starving!" One woman offered me a granola bar which I accepted and devoured faster than anything else I have every eaten. I only paused to inhale air, other than that I pushed that bar down my gullet like feeding a cucumber into a cuisinart. I felt so much better and then passed a guy (sport) and then there was the finish. Done. One other beginner had come in before me, but he had only done one lap. I smiled...
The training over the last months allowed me do do this. That long sustained exertion
on our rides gave me an edge with the walking, running and biking over the 1.5 hours.
PS: Fergus' friend Sage, who some may remember from a Rocky Rabbit ride, placed 2nd in the beginner's women category.
Posted by Greg, with the belly ballast in full force here. Wow, it looks like I'm pregnant!