Before I get into the race report, here is what I learned from the Patriot CX:
1. I am not strong/smart enough to run two races on the same day. Although I was still pulling harder than the people around me during the second race, I was making a lot more stupid mistakes.
2. I need to get better at remounts
3. I need to get better at low-rpm max power (i.e., first gear grinding)
Weather was a bitch, but the course was excellent. Start/finish was on a smoothly paved road for about 1/8 mile directly into the wind, and then turned into a tractor trail. They soaked about 100 feet of that with water, turning it into a slip-n-slide with about 6 inches of standing water in the ruts, and a few inches of mud on the crown. From there you went around a long lightly off-camber left turn that was extremely bumpy (my hands are covered in blisters from this 1000 foot section), and then onto a smooth tractor trail around to the back section. They had ~6" logs along the back, with two of them double stacked. With the wind at my back I was cruising along here at a good 18mph, but a lot of people were not comfortable bunny-hopping the logs. I made up a lot of time passing people dismounting for the doubles. And then there were three down and ups. In the Masters race I dismounted for each run-up, but after seeing the higher cats riding up the hills I tried...and failed miserably. More on that later. From there back along a much steeper off-camber section, a fast down and up, more off-camber, some switch backs, three barriers, a ride through a volleyball pit, and then smooth riding through the finish.
The masters race went very well, although 40 minutes was a stretch for me. My phone wasn't cooperating, so no ride data. After seeing a big wipe-out in the women's open race on the first lap going through the mud, I made every effort to be in front for that section. I ended up going through in third with no issues. A few guys disappeared after that, and that left everyone around me with relatively similar lap times. We were all dismounting for the run-ups, and while most were faster in the off-camber sections, I was stronger in the flat and tight sections. My only issue was that my shoes weren't tight enough, and my heals were slipping out in the run-ups. I finished 4th out of 6 in the 30+.
2 and a half hours later the Cat 4s and 5s are running. I start in back here, mainly because I was still feeling the first race and didn't want to be a nuisance. The mud pit was a mess, and I ended up going through the 6" of water in the ruts to avoid people floundering around like fish out of water in the middle. Two people had their bikes locked together somehow. I was probably 15 back from the front at that point. Practically all of the 4/5s are dismounting for the double logs, and I fly by 5 people through that section. My attempt at riding up the run-ups did not work, and I got re-passed by a number. My chain falls off after the barriers on the second lap and a good 5 people go around me while I'm tinkering with that. I pull them back in, but a few laps later I crash right after that section in the off-camber, and have some nice raspberries from the baked ground to prove it. Again I loose another 5 spots or so. But I pull them back in once I get back on. On the last lap, with a fairly good lead over the next guy behind me, I am trying to ride up the last down-and-up (the shortest and least steep), and my shoe comes off. While pedaling. Despite being so tight they were uncomfortable. I loose another 5 spots as I unclip my foot-less shoe and get it back on. No chance in catching. I end up near the back.
This was a good chance for me to see how I can do on my own. With CCC last year I was basically doing sprints to catch the guy in front of me, then resting until I could find a way past. Here there were so few people that I had to set my own pace. That's a lot harder.
So after my hands heal I'll be heading over to Mount Hoy to do some intervals this week. The last time I tried with my CX, I stopped half way up thinking it was impossible. Now I think it has to be possible if I am going to be successful this year.
And my kit was a huge success!