I rode the first Wednesdays at Wakefield race tonight. It was my third ever mountain bike race and first short cross country race and frankly, my legs feel hairier for having done it.
Mountain bike races are really different from road races. First of all the people are really hairy. There is lots of facial and leg hair, and a lot of the men have it too. (Just kidding, ladies... you won't find a better looking group of girls than on the starting line at an MTB race.)
Then everybody is friendly. There's passing - if you are riding hard on a guy's wheel and he knows it, you can get a pass, unlike the Alpha Male sort of politics you need to play in road racing. The officials don't yell at you (weird...) and everybody cheers for you.
Then there's the dust. Holy cow, is it dusty. It's worse than cross.
And crashing. Crashing in a road race is a 50/50 chance of ending your race. In a mountain bike race, it just means you need to try not to overcook that corner next time around.
So how'd it go? Not bad. I raced in the Clydesdale class, which is a pretty unusual blend of enormous fast dudes, and enormous slow dudes, and some middling folks, also enormous. Thing is, compared to the general population, we looked pretty healthy. Compared to the typical cyclist... well, we're just lucky we're not called the Bacon and Spam Class, is all I can say.
I was a bit undergeared on the single speed on this rolling course and a bit out of my element on the first lap. Everybody else apparently knew the course pretty well. I wound up near the back of the pack but started picking my way up pretty quickly. Here's a weird thing I heard chugging up one of the fairly short power climbs - "oh. He's got roadie power." I had to chuckle because I'm not normally considered a strong climber. The single speed really helps here, you simply have to redline it up hills and as a consequence become stronger. I'm not going to share that secret with anybody though.
It was sort of tough picking through all the corners and stuff. There are lots of rocks and dips on this course, it's not that rough, but was just hard to figure out first time through. I was slow on the first lap, maybe a 24, the fast guys rock a 17. The second lap through I really found a flow, passed several clydesdales and found myself working up through the women's expert pack, which had started two minutes before us. There's nothing interesting to report from this lap, other than seeing a pretty deer out in a field, literally on the side of the trail watching racers pass and chewing on some weeds.
All was uneventful until I got to this little stream crossing, where I promptly unceremoniously endo-ed. This taco'ed my wheel and left me pretty bruised, so I hammered the wheel into semi-rideable shape and limped in at around 21-22.
Final result - DNF after two out of three laps. Sore hands. Scuffed leg. Bent wheel, busted saddle. BIIIIGGGG smiles.
Yep, I'm going to do that again. It was a lot of fun and if I can keep from breaking the bike, who knows - maybe I can do better than DFL.