My first MTB race in 12 years and it was a blast. Muddy and more muddy. I’ve been on my bike a lot this spring because of an injury that has kept me from running full time and so I decided to enter some races. I entered High Cascade 100 MTB race in August, but felt like I needed a “refresher” course in racing my mountain bike again. Bart Bowen at Rebound Sports Performance put the bug in my ear about TOE 50 held in the Coastal Range 25 miles west of Corvallis, Oregon. It’s a combo of singletrack and doubletrack logging roads. Most of the climbs are double track logging roads with most of the descents being singletrack.
I didn’t know what category to enter, as I haven’t raced in over a decade. I was on the fence on whether to enter Cat 1 or Cat 2. So, after consulting with a few mountain bike racers in town, I entered Cat 2. So, after not much warming up and a small drizzle at the start, we rolled out at 9am down a gravel road.
One thing I immediately remembered (albeit too late) about a bike race is to position yourself in the start pack strategically. I made the mistake of starting in the back half of the pack and got caught behind a bunch of slower folks early (and guys doinking their gear shifting on the first climb) and had to do a lot of surging the first half hour to get into a good position where I could settle into a comfortable pace. Exactly why I entered…refresher course.
I ended up riding near a few Pros and lots of Cat 1 riders all day and was wondering if I might be leading Cat 2, but wasn’t sure. I asked a couple of guys and they said there might be one Cat 2 guy ahead of me. I kept looking for him. Turns out there wasn’t. I crossed the finish 26 minutes in front of 2nd place Cat 2. Turns out I did better than anticipated and would have been only 1 minute off a podium finish in my age group for Cat 1 and 9th overall in Cat 1. Actually, to their credit, Bart Bowen and Paul Clarke told me I should probably enter Cat 1 due to fitness level, but my lack of racing was the question mark, which they turned out to be right. I had no idea though, due to my long hiatus from the sport, and took the conservative approach.
All in all, it was a blast. My son was a big help with filling gel flasks at the campsite the night before and was super pumped that Adam Craig showed up and got to stand next to him as we chatted after the race. He thinks it’s a cool fact that both Adam and Chris (Horner) live in the same town as he does.