My race report:
I liked it - surprisingly a lot, considering the 2 pre-race laps I was able to get in had me a little spooked. Some pretty technical stuff and some pretty fast stretches.
I had a mid-pack start. For the most part I like the system they have in place. My pre-season goal was to be able to finish consistently in the top half, and Barlow seemed to confirm I had the fitness. But at this point in the season, with no points to my name, I have to modify that. With about 35 guys or so getting call-ups, and the rest of us in the lottery, it just ain't gonna happen, so I'm satisfied with racing the guys I find myself next to - and staying on my bike, which seemed to challenge plenty of folks at Barton. From the pre-ride I figured my best strategy was going to be to ride the mud and corners carefully, and hammer the uphills and flats, and it seemed to work OK. So far I'm 4 for 4 this year on dropping my chain once on the first lap - not sure how it happened, but there was a bottleneck on the left hand into the woods so I was forced to dismount (I rode it the other laps) and when I came out of the woods, my chain was off and a bunch of guys passed me - I think Jeff was one. After that I rode clean, was able to ride the short hill onto the dike and the 2 downhills fine, though there was a "yellow flag" on the diagonal one for the last 2 laps (injury Fergus was talking about) so we were asked to take it slow.
Tactical error: I was riding 40+ lbs and should have been lower - I intended to bleed some off but forgot. I noticed it coming down that corner after the long gravel straight. Ah well. Up on the dike where it was rocks, mud, rocks, mud, repeat I was having difficulty holding a line. Jeff suggested that at the finish it might be advantageous to run it out rather than remount in a close race. I was side by side with a guy on the run-up and thought what the heck. It worked.
I noticed my overall time was about 38 minutes. The leaders around 34. Technically we had time for another lap. I had it in me. I think they ended our race early because they needed to bring paramedics in - I know they were stopping the juniors at the same time they were telling us "one lap."
On my third lap I saw three riders down being attended by others on three different parts of the course. Yikes.
I also had a brief thought of catting down to Master C - until I saw the size of Fergus's field. Holy crap.