This season, as usual, started with a race at the Mansfield Outdoors Centre. I had a bit of a chaotic couple of weeks leading up to the event and didn't get a lot of time in on my mountain bike before the race. I ended up 4th in the Masters race but was only 45 seconds off the winner's pace. I was happy enough with that.
Round two, as usual, took place at Albion Hills two weeks later. I call this series my "yardstick" but what I really mean is Jon Barnes is my "yardstick." He wins our race practically every time. He's fast. Occasionally, like when he has pneumonia, I can get the better of him but usually he wins and I measure my fitness by how badly he beat me -- success or failure is measured by Minutes Behind Barnes. At Mansfield it was less than a minute. Success. I was hopeful for Albion but when he did not appear on the start line my hope turned to serious enthusiasm, "I can win this thing!" It's nothing personal Jon if you're reading -- I like having you there -- seriously! Then again, Barnes didn't win Round One of the battle royale anyway. He was bested by a most kindly transplanted Quebecois named Eric Jobin and he was standing to my right... No matter, "I can DO this!"
And as it turned out, I did do it. Eric wasn't quite himself and I took advantage of the situation. What's the saying? Preparation meets opportunity? Something like that. I found myself racing in a front group of three very evenly matched riders for 3.5 laps until I finally stuck an attack in the last 2km. Victory!
It's odd to lead a mountain bike race -- you get to determine the pace -- as oppossed to the usual time trial mode you can ease up, attack etc. You are in control. Cool.
I was a little concerned about my new 2x9 gearing on the steep Green Bastard climb but it proved to be unfounded. More on the new bike to come.
Sausage suit forever!