I am somewhere near the back of this group. You can see me go by in the video on my last post.
One of the riders (on the left?) kept clipping in both feet and hanging on to the barriers but eventually they got everyone in line and started us!
Me and Papo sort of hung together and laughed at the initial craziness.
One of the riders charged off the front (fluorescent yellow jacket, camelback) and started swerving back and forth like he was dueling for a sprint... 3 hours to go...
Eventually the pace picked up and I had to stop laughing.
Papo drifted ahead.
I rode "conservatively" for at least an hour while things settled down and opened up.
That doesn't mean I wasn't riding as hard as I possibly could, just that I wasn't fighting anyone to be first into that off camber gravel on hardpack corner, if you know what I mean!
After that first hour the race had opened up and it was uneventful. Riders were tired enough to be friendly and with a couple exceptions weren't making stupid passes.
I would pass when necessary and let others pass me even if I just passed them back a couple minutes later.
At one point a rider decided to squeeze by at the last second, heading into some singletrack. With no warning. And no room. While I was replacing my water bottle...
after I dropped my bottle, I conserved what I had left until the end of my lap where my feed was.
The sections of the course from the 1st feed zone to the second and from there to the racetrack where you started out onto the course again were wide open and WINDY!
Heading past the first feed, I was between two groups of ten or more riders, riding by myself in the wind.
I decided to try and catch the lead group, rather than drop back.
It took me a lonely 15+ minutes of dangling off the back before I caught up, during which time I had the pleasure of passing a rider who had earlier in the race made a bad pass and railroaded me off the trail.
I saw him get shelled from the group and caught him a minute later...
As I passed by on the other side of the wide open fire road he yelled "take it now!", like it was a limited passing opportunity on tight singletrack. Hmmm?
(Okay, I was a little annoyed, but he DID ride me off the trail without warning in a POINTLESS pass. We were 15 seconds from the end of the singletrack and the only space in front of me was about a wheel length and then another rider... and another... and another.)
Anyway, I caught onto the group at the second feed zone and hung onto the back trying to recover. In order to stay with them I had to come around several riders who were getting shelled off the back but eventually I had sort of caught my breath.
Right about then we got to a short singletrack piece that put us back on the racetrack...
My wife was there with a bottle but I didn't plan the feed well enough because at racepace the ground was rough enough to make it difficult to put my bottle in my cage.
I was falling off the back of the group at this point and decided that I had better make catching them my main priority, since I probably wouldn't be able to fight the wind to get back on.
I clenched my new bottle in my teeth until I got back on the track, where the group was starting to pull away!
I had just gotten my bottle secured as I was turning left onto the racetrack when a series of events unfolded that sent me into a mini panic attack. Here's what happened:
I didn't know that my mom was going to be there with another bottle. As I came onto the track she asked me if I wanted a bottle, and I realized that maybe I had a choice of water or sports drink. Hmmmm. Then I realized that maybe the bottle I had worked so hard to hang onto was full of calorie deficient WATER.
Then I realized that the group was getting way ahead of me and that there was a strong headwind coming up the track.
THEN.... I panicked.
I asked my mom "what is it?" (real intense-like)
I probably should have been calmer, panic being contagious, she replied, "ummmm...?"
"What is it!!!!!!!!!?"
I had reached the point of no return with regards to the group and it was now or never if I was going to catch back on.
I put my head down and sprinted!