It started raining hard Friday evening and never stopped. I got up Sunday morning and it was still as nasty out as ever. I'm glad I own an SUV because I packed two of everything, literally!! I finished breakfast and as I was almost ready to head out the door. I looked at Denise and asked if she was going. She held up the newspaper and her cup of coffee and said "Good luck, see you later!" I couldn't blame her. The race was at Beverly Park in the South Seattle area. When I arrived at the lot at 8:30 it was still a torrential down pour. Even though we had our tent setup down by the course I decided to set one up behind my rig so I could change and warm up on my trainer there and maximize my "dry time". I put on gear I wasn't going to race in and hit the course. Even before anyone had raced you could tell it was going to be a crazy, sloppy mess. After I got the lay of the land I headed back to my rig and changed into my racing gear. I set up my trainer and got in a good, dry 40 minutes before putting on my rain cape and riding one more lap.
In the SCX series my field is the first of four to go out. I was in the 2nd race of the day so I knew the course was going to be plenty chewed up. As we went to the staging area it was still pouring but at least is wasn't too cold. Since I won the first race I was able to get the call up to start in the front row. I noticed that Brian from Stanley wasn't there. Well, that's one guy I don't have to worry about. Jeff from Cycling NW who won the MFG race last week and Chad(Fanatic) who finished 2nd behind me at the last SCX race were lined up right next to me. This was going to be a good one.
The gun went off and and I powered hard to stay up front. It wasn't fast going down the rain soaked infield. I was able to settle in right behind Jeff. There was a large group of us bunched together as we made our way though this maze of mud. We wound through the first set of turns, over a single barrier and then up the steep, muddy run-up. The hecklers were out in force. It was hard to just get a foot hold so getting up fast was not the goal. I made it to the top and was still on Jeff's wheel. We were still a tight pack of 10 or so guys as we made our way to the back side of the course. The technical sections in the grass that are usually slow were now harder to negotiate. It took everything I had to hold my line and keep it going. We came off the grass and onto a short paved section and then through a short wooded section. There was a little dip as you entered but nothing bad. We came out of it and headed towards the trickiest section of the course. We hit the grass and there was a slight off camber left turn that flows right into a short off camber downhill that bows slightly to the left near the bottom. This was one of the favorite spot for fans. After getting though that craziness we hit a section that I think in dry conditions you could ride the whole thing but not today. We were still on the grass but the couse went slightly up hill and then hairpinned to the left while getting steeper. Pretty much everyone, including myself, didn't try to ride any of it. When we reached the top and re-mounted we quickly had to hit it. Normally this would the part of the race when you could really pour it on but not today. The hill was slick and the track was flooded and muddy. It wasn't bad but you had to think about your line. As we came around the track I took a quick look behind me and noticed that Jeff and I had devoloped a gap. What happened? They were all there a second ago. The person in 3rd must have crashed somewhere and no on could get around him. As we rounded the back side of the track I could see Chad and one other guy coming down the hill. Jeff and I had a nice little lead to work with. We then got to the other really tricky section on the course. It was a long "Bog from Hell" that you could ride but if you faltered or got caught in traffic you were going to be running in shin deep mud. As we ended that section we took a hairpin left and we both just jumped off and started running. It was crazy. Even when we remounted it wasn't easy to negotiate. As we started the next lap our lead had grown and I was happy to just sit on Jeff's wheel and watch for him to make a mistake. I think we were playing a little "Cat and Mouse", trying to get each other to take the lead. We got to the top of the run-up he faltered a little and I was forced to move around him. I decided to go hard on the back side of the course and see if I could get a gap on him but he was right on my tail. I stayed out front for a while but during the technical section on the grass I took a turn too wide while trying to get around a lapped rider and he slipped by. I didn't realize how well we both negotiated that course until I was able to watch the races that followed ours. We both had only slight bobbles but never went down until......
On the 2nd to last lap we hit the "Bog" on the back side of the track and at the hairpin Jeff went down. I was right on his wheel and I barreled right into him and went down as well. Our bikes were tangled up but since we had a big lead we didn't panic. We carefully got situated and got moving again.
On the last lap the announcer could see we had a heated battle going and tried to get the crowd into it. We were now lapping riders and many of them were thanking us for saving them from having to do their last lap. It seemed that Jeff was getting through the lapped riders with ease and I was having some trouble staying with him. We approached the muddy section on top of the hill and I was hoping that Jeff would make a mistake. We both made it though without issue. He was getting a gap on me now. I was starting to think to myself, "Just ride smart and don't make mistakes, you have 2nd locked up!" We got off the track and hit the "Bog" for the last time. We hit the hairpin and Jeff went down in the exact same place as the last lap. This allowed me to gain ground. We only had about 300 meters to go. We hit the track for the last time and I decided that if I wanted any kind of a chance to win I had to try something now. No matter what I would still get second so here we go. I hit the gas and went around him as fast as I could. I was a little surprised when he wasn't right on my wheel. I got a little gap and I only had three turns to go before the straight away into the finish. (easier said then done). It seemed to take forever. There were a ton of lapped racers to get by and if I made even a tiny mistake he could overtake me right before the finish. I was able to squeek by and glide across the finish line in first place!! This was the best win of the season for me. It was a great battle on a very challenging course on day anyone would call epic!!
photo#1 by Chris Dobrick
photo#2 by mgarty
photo#3 by Kenton Berge
Just a note for any of you that might start calling me a "Sandbagger". This was only my 6th race ever in my first season racing cross so I don't really care but........I have put in for my upgrade and will be racing 3's next week......on a dry course.