Finally arrive at the race, register, catch up with Uri, who was the top nemesis for the day, as he was the only person I knew in the Cat 2 19-29 race, and was my only competition in the 2012 Hebrew Cup, I tried to psyche him out with my 2.2" wide tires, he had 29" wheels and awkwardness on his side. Then I changed, and said hi to more mountain bike friends that I hadn't seen in months, and remembered it was time to race bikes. Oh, I forgot to warm up, this is no big deal.
I got a front row start, because I race cyclocross and I know that is important for positioning. After the whistle blew I rode not terribly hard in third wheel down the 50 feet of fire road before the first technical section and managed to stay upright and boom, I had won the holeshot, because that is what I do.
And then I just pedaled, not terribly hard, because mountain bike racing is an endurance event, and I was "saving my energy" for the later part of the race. Little did I know that the race started by going up hill for a mile. After about 5 minutes of off the front glory I got passed by a guy from my race like I was standing still, and then a minute or two later by another guy. Ok, 3rd place, I can hang out here right?
Well, no, because after the long climb there was a really long section of fire road where I needed to pedal hard, and for those of you who don't know me I am not very good at that. But I tried (sort of) and I entered the next single track section solo with the hopes that 4th place (and Uri) were far behind me, they weren't.
Soon, I was going uphill again, and I saw Uri behind me and we enter another section of fire road, CRAP. Now I really have to pedal hard. But there was nothing I could do and I was caught by Uri and his big wheels, he passed me, and then crashed. After that, I passed him again, he caught me and then I got a stick stuck in my rear derailleur and then Uri didn't want to wait for me to take it out because he is a jerk.
I fix my bike, start pedalling, and I officially have no idea where I am on the 10 mile course, or what position I'm in and I start with the "I WANT THIS TO BE OVER" thoughts. Then there was more climbing, it was not fun, especially with my 36 tooth single ring up front, I couldn't spin up anything, which meant pedaling hard. I yelled to my legs "MOVE FASTER" to which they replied "uh... no." This was most apparent in the powerlines section of the course which had 2 super steep climbs exposed in the sun, and then a technical super tight climbs in the woods when I was passed by a dude I recognized from the start line.
Eventually, 7 miles in I got to the top of the course and started going down hill, which was great. Like much of the course it was a mix of techinical single track and fast fire roads that had berms and rocks, making it super awesome, I was having fun again. This is when I remembered why people are scared of mountain bike racing, because hitting a tree or rock at these speeds would suck.
Anyhow, after 3 miles of awesome descending (with a soul crushing steep climb in there just for good measure) the race was over.
After washing my bike and putzing around for a while I learned that Uri got 3rd place and I rolled in a few minutes later for 6th of 17 finishers.
I was displeased for a minute because I really wanted a top 5 finish, but the course was fantastic, the weather was great, and I had a good time. Gosh, mountain bike racing is fun!