(pic of Charlie's grossly swollen ankle due to broken Fibula)
... became my good fortune, as he had registered for the race already, and was kind enough to give me his entry. You see, I wasn't interested in paying money to go get my ass kicked, but I was more than happy to go do it for free. Charlie had registered for Singlespeed, which works for me, as I tend to race better on a SS than with gears anyway.
Unlike some years past, the weather was perfect this year. Slightly chilly all morning, things warmed up nicely as the race was starting, just barely warm enough to be comfortable with a normal jersey and shorts.
The turnout for the race seemed huge, I don't know how it compared to last year (and I can't be bothered to look up last years results and find out), but this must be one of the more popular races on the NMORS series. It was fun to see so many people out, and to see dozens of friends and customers. I guess I had kind of lost track of just how many of our customers show up to race XC.
There were 14 guys in the SS category, several of which I knew I had no hope of beating, let alone keeping in sight. So without any hope of winning the race, I lined up free of anxiety or butterflies in my stomach, and was just happy to be out for a nice hard ride on a perfect spring day.
(a fine looking jersey on an even finer looking man)
Waiting for the start of the race, I was chatting up Mike "Chappy" Chapman (veteran shop rat, card carrying badass, and owner of The Broken Spoke bike shop in Santa Fe, dontchaknow). He was also racing SS, and I happened to notice that the cog on his bike looked suspiciously small. a 32 x 16 tooth gear ratio, on a 29er, to be exact. It was clear that Chappy was either going to win, or get last place with a gear that big. Well, big surprise, he took the SS win, apparently pedaling away from everybody at the start, never to be seen again (I say apparently because I sure as hell wasn't anywhere close enough to see it happen).
My personal race went well, I paced myself enough to keep from blowing up (something I tend to do), managed to pass a couple more singlespeeders during the race, and ended up in 5th place. I was particularly happy to come in on the wheel of Chris Casey, somebody who has historically put pretty good time into me in Cat.1 geared races over the past couple years. I was even in front of him for a short period of time. I came up on him quick, and passed him, thinking that he had bonked. But I think I just caught him zoning out, because he quickly passed me back, and then stayed in front for the last 1/4 of the race or so.
Here is a pic of me, making it look hard. Probably near the end of the race, based on how I look like I'm trying to fall off the front of my bike. Thats the singlespeed position when you can no longer use your actual muscles to turn the pedals over, and instead just throw your bodyweight into every downstroke. I did however, clearly just pass several people at once, just so you know.
Actually, my only complaint was that the SS class was started 2 minutes behind all of the Cat 2 men, which was a huge number of racers. It has been a pretty obvious trend the past several years that some of the fastest guys showing up are racing SS. Chappy's race time was faster than any Cat 2 racer in any age group. And my time, good for a 5th place finish, would have put me into 4th place Cat 2 in my age group. There were 14 singlespeeders and 74 Cat 2's, most of whom I passed during the race. Had we been put infront of the Cat 2's, worst case scenario is that a few of them had to pass a few of us. But on the bright side, nothing like passing dozens of people to make you feel a little better about yourself.
Lastly, I know you have all been anxious to know who won in the Dr.Dave vs. Papa Lucero grudge match of the century. Well, Dave dug deep and finished in 7th place, putting over 3 minutes into Papa Lucero who finished 11th (out of a huge field of 24 in the Cat 2 "Old Guy" class). This should just serve to motivate Papa Lucero, and with his just being retired, he will have some serious time to get trained up for next year.
A link to an Excel file with all the results and lap times can be found here...
And now my brain has been emptied of all it's awesomeness. So I say farewell.