And I won!
So long story short... The Arkansas Point Challenge at Lake Pueblo is a USAC race. I've have only done a couple USAC races since USAC does not normally get involved in the endurance type races. This has me as a Cat. 2 racer, which some will dispute I'm not. So my plan for the weekend was to go and crush the Cat. 2 race and then petition to upgrade to a Cat. 1 racer where I would be able to compete. So far my plan has worked out.
The race started as a mass start of 100+ racers, Expert (Cat. 1 and Pros), Sport (Cat 2.), and beginners. The alarm was off prompty at 9 AM. The start was almost a two mile road climb that entered into tight singletrack. I jumped on the back of the front group of about 20 guys within the first half mile to be run off the edge of the road by a guy not paying attention, so I had to kick real hard again to get back onto the front group. As I got back on the tail end I had my head down and probably some blood squirting from the corner of my eyes. When I looked up the two guys in front of me gave up and a gap had opened to the front group again. Crap! So I attempted a kick again, and as I did other guys fell off the group. I passed them but did not quite make it to the back of the front group by the time we hit dirt.
My strategy worked out. I didn't want to be caught behind someone who was going to DAB on the little technical grunt. So there was a few seconds of no one in front of me, unfortunately I did catch a guy on the technical grunt and he DABed. I did leave enough space for him to have time to get out of the way, but he didn't leave much space and I almost slipped over the edge into a rocky ravine, that would have sucked. But I made it up. I got up the last part of the grunt and felt totally maxed out, I needed to catch my breath!
So I tried to relax and dialed my effort back. A couple guys got on my wheel and they were impatient. I let three of them by only to have them slow down when they got in front of me... "hah, I bet they drive their cars this way". Two of them started to battle who would get in front and slow down, and they almost took each other out on a couple of turns. I backed off a little more so I would avoid the tangle. Finally there was just the one guy in front of me and I was having issue getting around him. I had my chance and blew it.
I got to the turn off for the Sport course. I could not see that anyone was in front of me. I glanced back and did not see anyone coming from behind. So I pinned the next mile or so to build more of a gap until the shingle rock covered dosey doe single track started. Since it was pretty slippery I let up quite a bit. The wind was howling and very gusty, and the trail was along the ledge of a cliff dropping off into the water. Once while I was trying to look back to see if anyone was coming I went off trail quite a ways and a little close to the edge. Several other times the wind blew me off, it was a little sketchy given to the left was a steep drop of 200ft or more.
Suddenly and quite unexpectedly I heard the sound of someone crashing not to far behind me. I glanced back to see someone picking themselves up. I turned on the gas again. As I turned on to some double track that was mostly down hill or flat I thought I could use my max effort power to build up a gap again, but I was dead into the wind! What was a 35MPH stretch the day before on the pre-ride was barely 15MPH into the wind. I think I did build a gap again though.
I hit the last sort of technical section and went at it pretty much full bore. I hit a small section of rock drops at quite a bit of speed, and someone out of nowhere was "whoop whooping" me. I had no idea where this person was! The last bit of the course had on previous rides been fun and fast. Race day it was all head wind, using momentum dropping off of one climb to get up the other didn't really work so well. So I hit it pretty hard although I wasn't moving all that fast.
Finally I hit traffic from the beginners race. I'm not sure where I found the voice to yell at people to get out of the way, I was breathing so hard my ears were ringing! Finally I hit the last stretch of pavement, but the headwind was so intense I had to pedal all out to go downhill! I didn't reach 30MPH until the last quarter mile, finally though I crossed the line first! Sometime, it seemed 30-60 seconds later the guy behind me came across. A little closer than I wanted or thought. Good thing I didn't flat like a lot of others did!
My average heart rate for the 100 minute race was 186 BPM!
Here is a video of the pre-ride. I'll be doing 70+ miles of this at the Voodoo Fire next weekend!
Just a quick follow-up note. USAC granted my request for upgrading my racing license to Cat. 1. No more sandbagging!