18th place Masters - 53.56
This could be titled The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Arrive at Bavington to perfect weather. Trails were dry, and the finishing times would be low. This year the Masters went before Sport, so I hardly had to wait around. Bavington is always interesting because it's a time trial format.
I took off, and felt solid. I wasn't sure how I'd feel. I've done more riding than ever this year, but a lot of longer distance road riding, not much interval riding at all, and Month of Mud races are more about riding all out for an hour.
I crossed the first road and easily made it up the steep hill, hitting the new line that lets you stay off the roots. I was flying on this first section of trails, and I quickly passed the area where I was caught by another Masters rider last year. So far, so good.
I got to the first set of "steep" hills and rode them all easily. I got passed by someone on this area. But I could tell I was riding much better than last year.
In no time at all, I was nearing the short, steep downhill that dumps out in to the open field. Mentally I was completely focused on riding down this section (this is where Joe B. had a tremendous wreck a couple of years ago, and I always have that in my mind).
As I neared the downhill, I was so focused on getting the right line that I failed to see the rocks on the area above the downhill. The rocks kicked me to the shoulder on the right, which promptly gave out. This tossed me over the handlebars down in to a gully to the right. I just missed a tree with my head, and landed on my back.
The bike was still clipped to me, and it took a bit to get unclipped. Finally untangled from the thorns, climbed up out of the gully as two riders passed me. Jumped on the bike and only then noticed that the handle bars were turned. Back off, turn the handle bars. Finally I got going and realized my seat was turned sideways also. Worse wreck than I realized. Straightened the seat, and tried to get back in my groove.
But I just couldn't find that groove. Used a lot of energy in the wreck and recovery. I didn't ride as strong on the last section of the course. I'm guessing that wreck cost me at least three minutes, and when the race lasts no longer than an hour, that's a significant amount of time.
So, I took 18th place. Looking at the times, I might have finished 10 - 12th place, which I would've been thrilled with considering the competition this year. The downside of racing Masters is that it's an open class - full of experts and sport riders.
In fact at the beginning of the race while I was awaiting my turn, the guy in front of me looks back at me and asks if I'm racing Masters. I reply yes. Masters expert, he asks. I explain to him that it's an open class. His eyes tells me I have no chance. But of course his shaved legs and kit give the same message. But racing against the experts can only make me faster, I hope.
Next race is a cyclocross race at Raccoon. Weather looks to be muddy and rainy, that might be good for me as I race my 29er in the cyclocross races.