We received a pretty pounding rain on Saturday, which all but guaranteed the course for Sunday would be a mess. Of course, it wasn't, thereby proving the importance of "all but" in the previous sentence. While the ground was soft and did get torn up a little, there was only one puddle on the course, and that could barely be classified as a puddle. Otherwise, it was a beautiful course in Canton, at least for me since it did not require great technical skills (but good skills would be helpful).
There were around 85 people signed up for the C race. The course was pretty wide open, going through some grassy fields, some brief single track, onto a cement walkway, back onto some grassy areas, down a hill, up an embankment, around a running track, back through grass, then uphill on a road to a finish. Pretty long loop and it seemed pretty easy.
I had a pretty good warmup, getting a nice feel for the course. Then someone says, "Let's do another 1/2 lap." Stupid me says fine, and off we go. Rule number 1: Don't do any more warm-up when you feel warmed up. Rule number 2: Don't go tearing off with one of the A master's guy for a warmup when you're a C. Everything was fine until on right turn on the concrete when my bike goes skidding from underneath me. Rule number 3: Cross tires and pavement don't mix. It wouldn't be a warmup if I didn't crash. I was fine despite some road rash, bike was fine despite some road rash, and off to the starting line bleeding once again before the race starts.
I had a decent start. I wasn't trying to kill myself since it was a 40 minute race. Plenty of time for that on lap 4. But, very soon after the start, my bike started to feel funny. The back end of a little squirrely. BINGO! A flat tire. No problem because I put my spare tires in the pits. However, one small problem in that the pits are on the other end of the course and I now have to ride the course with a flat back tire. It was fine as long as I was on the dirt. Once I hit the pavement, it was like being on an ice rink. The running track was worse. I'm trying to make my way around, not getting in people's way too much, and getting passed a lot.
I finally make it to the pits, and the mechanic pops the tire off, new tire on, off we go. I've never ridden on my pit back tire, so let's see how this works. Everything seems to be shifting okay, but now I am hopelessly out of the hunt. So, might as well work on passing technique and get a hard workout in. Rule number 5: There is always something to be learned from a race. The next three laps went by pretty fast, considering I lost 2 minutes on the first lap, what was 12:18. The next three laps were 10:12, 10:10, 10:08. I was having a good time and it was a beautiful course. It was also a beautiful day, despite the 20-30 mph wind gusts.
Despite the appearance of a smooth course, there was a lot of carnage out there. People were going down all over the place on the cement. Rule number 6: Despite the appearance of a smooth track, you can't lose your focus. One guy washed out right in front of me on the first lap, and I had to swerve around him (with a bad back tire) lest I run over his head. I saw another guy in the shower with major road rash. He hit a bump in the pavement while looking behind him. Launch. Rule number 7: Don't look behind you.
I have no idea where I finished overall. It was good experience at a larger race. We had a ton of MRC guys there doing different races, and it was good to see everyone enjoying themselves. I figure I could have held my own toward the top 15 if I wouldn't have flatted. Live and learn. Possibly doing Northampton next weekend, but that depends on family variables.
Footage of the race can be seen at: