Photos by Rick Rasmussen
Dennis got me started on the CCCX mountain bike races last season and now I’m hooked. It’s a great racing opportunity that’s close by. I can have a leisurely breakfast, race, and be home by 4:30 pm. Good for earning spousal credits.
I won a bunch of the 45-plus CCCX races last year, sometimes by more than six minutes, so this year I decided to do the honorable thing, drop down to the 35-plus expert, and submit to some increased suffering.
Due to my new job and challenging schedule, I had not swung a leg over my mountain bike for two months before this day. The tires were at about 10 psi from the bike hanging upside down on the hooks all that time. So I was a little concerned about my bike handling skills. Plus, I tweaked something in my neck the day before, putting my car cover on, which meant I only had about a 30-degree range of motion. No worries—that just meant I wouldn’t be able to turn my head and see who was behind me!
The Fort Ord course is not ideal for me—it’s relatively flat. I’m much better off at the other CCCX course, Toro Park, which has a long climb. But they’re both fun.
Miles Wadsworth was also in my group (in Family Cycling kit—shame!), and we went right to the front on the long, paved, uphill start. I was a bit tentative—concerned about going out too hard—and let a small gap open to Miles and two others. Unfortunately, that gap would prevail to the end of the race. (Note to self: I need to bury myself at the start of these races and stay with the front group, because after the first lap the pace slows and you can recover.)
After that I found myself once again playing the role of the strong, dumb guy, towing a group of about six around the course a minute or so behind the leaders. On the second lap, I decided to swing out and let the others by to catch some rest. Then, on the third of five laps, I went to the front again with an acceleration, which reduced things to me and one other guy. We agreed to work together for a lap or two to ensure that we stayed away. With half a lap to go, I attacked again and rode alone to the finish, time trial fashion, finishing fourth in my first 35-plus race.
Miles hung on for second. Meanwhile, Bike Tripper Tim Sawyer won the 45-plus, in what I gather was a sprint finish. Congratulations! And Chris Baker was third in the 45-plus sport race—go team!
OK, this will sound weird, but in that final mile or so, as I rode alone to the finish, I did a lot of thinking. Mostly, I was thinking about how much fitter I feel than last year, and how much I’ve benefited from all those workouts with Mark. No, I didn’t win, but I think I have a good chance of doing so this year, with a few more mountain bike miles in my legs. But what a pleasure it was to be able ride away from people at will—some of them 15 years my junior—and to feel so good at the end of a race like that. Pretty cool!
And I only fell down once.