Luke, Jen Greenberg and I rolled into town just in time to say congrats to Tamara for a job well done and to see the CAT 5's start. Jonathan and Adam tore up the Snake like it wasn't even there, with Josh, Leonard and Brian hanging strong in the pack. It was great to see such a strong xXx presence in the 5's, and lucky them, they had the best weather of the day with dry conditions. The on-again off-again rain was not so kind to Jen and Luke in their races, but that's a whole other tale for another race report or the next xXx meeting.
The 4's race kicked off with Joe, Jason and I having coveted front row starting positions and Pieter not far back. Luckily, the rain that started right before our race stopped and stayed away until 5 minutes after we finished. We took off and Joe got a great position out front, with Jason and I not far behind. Going up the snake the first time, I was cut off by a rider, rubbed wheels and had to track stand for a second before getting my balance back. Cost: 5-10 places. Once over the Snake, bomb down the hill and try and carve the corners w/out crashing and recover all at the same time. Second time up the Snake, a rider had his head down hammering and rammed into myself and a rider next to me, not looking at all where he was going. "Oh Sorry!" he yells. Thanks to him, my foot gets pushed under my chainstay (Speedplay X2's have LOTS of float) and my entire heel comes out of my shoe, about 1/4 the way up the Snake. Uh-oh....this is no bueno. So, I climb the rest of the Snake with my heal hanging all the way out of my shoe, pushing like crazy with my toes and the front half of my foot. Once over the top (again bombing down the hill and trying to recover) I struggle to get my heel back in and finally do. Cost: no idea, but at least a few more spots. A few more laps ensue. The Snake is starting to hurt, and I start to take a keen interest in the lap counter at the start/finish line...
About lap 8, Luke (who is on the Snake taking pictures and coaching us up the climb) yells out to me "People are starting to crack and you are moving up.". Ah, sweet words of encouragement. I kick up the pace a little more (which I was careful not to let get out of hand in fear of blowing up), and bomb down back side. Ooops, took that second corner a little too fast, heading for the curb...not good...brake a little, lean the bike, straighten the inside elbow and PUSH like crazy, scrape my outside pedal on the curb and miss the hay bail by inches. Wheh! "Close one..." says the rider behind me as he passes by. Uh, yea. By now, oddly, there are not a lot of riders around me. I catch Jason, who is having shifting issues due to what had to be new cables stretching, not sure where Pieter is and Joe is oh so close in front of me but just a tad too far up to catch. I finish behind Joe, who camp in 28th, but only doing 11 laps. Evidently the majority of the group was lapped by the leaders and the officials reduced the race by a lap right as Joe went over the line with one lap to go. Jason and Pieter finished 38th and 41st, respectively, rounding out a solid showing for xXx in the 4's.
Well, 29th out of 65 or so that started (and 47 that finished) is not so bad. I raced as hard as I could. Best of all, I now have a wealth of experience and knowledge to use next year in the quest for better placings at Snake Alley.