Despite all of the rain that the area had received in the last 3 days, the 4th Annual Sylvan Stampede went off as scheduled yesterday. A large number of riders showed up from all over to participate in the event. I arrived at the event around 8 AM so that I could get my bike reassembled and get some laps in before the racing started. As I did this I was reminded of three common rules: Make a list. Pack well before the event. Double check your bike before you leave. Arriving at the race site, I realized that I had forgotten to pack a set of bike shorts in my bag. Not good. Thankfully, Rick from QFORC was willing to run home, and loan me a pair of shorts so that I could race. I owe him a drink or two if they are in town for our events later this year. Looking my bike over before heading on the course, I also realized that I was missing a chain ring bolt. The mechanic that was set up did not have any with him, so I tightened the other three the best that I could, and raced with them. I'l be picking up a proper tool and some loctite this week to make sure that doesn't happen again.
After all of the crap that Cam Kirkpatrick and Pete Basso fed me all winter, I decided to go ahead and race in the sport class. It seemed like a waste of time to enter a race and only ride for 7 miles. I had decided to start in the back and lay low so I wouldn't hold anyone up. However, adrenaline got the better of me at the start and I made a reasonably hard charge out of the starting area towards the funnel at the end. After the first lap, I could tell that I had gone out too hard and I backed down for the second lap so that I had a reasonable chance of finishing the race. Racing at the site of an old steel mill makes for some unique terrain. There were a large number of roots, hunks of concrete, and other things challenging you at every turn. I really started to feel my lack of conditioning around lap 4. I have been riding 60 and 100 mile gravel grinders a lot more than I have been 17 mile off road sprints. I'll have to start riding the center trails a lot more (and a lot harder) if I plan on getting any better. I also noticed that I was having issues keeping my speed and momentum up on the tighter sections of the course. I may have to check with some local 29er riders for some hints on how to improve my performance there.
I'm still trying to figure out where I finished in the pack. I know times of people behind me, and I know times of some people that were pulled. However, I can't find my name on the results page, nor can I remember what my chip number was so I could look my time up by that. Hopefully the folks at FORC can get it all straightened out. Overall, I'm happy with how my first race went. It's obvious that I'm not 23 any more, and that I have a lot of learning to do about how to race a mountain bike, but I finished the entire race, I only crashed once (damn tree), and I didn't get lapped by the winner. My family had a good time watching me race as well, and it was certainly nice hearing them cheer for me as I passed the spectator area. Unfortunately, our crack media crew left the camera in the car, so I don't have any photos to post. Hopefully I can track some down, as there were a number of still and digital cameras on the course during the race. Next race is Camp Inagawanis near Waverly on May 4th. I'm looking forward to it.