Unfortunately I'm not quite in the groove of race blogging yet and completely forgot to take any pictures, oops (but I did steal some from Shaun!). Ok now to the positives.
1. Turn out. HOLY CRAP. I think I can safely say this was the biggest EFTA race I have ever been to. Parking lot was packed, people everywhere, fields stacked. The start was pandemonium, never experienced anything like it. 31 singlespeeders toe'd the line yesterday!!! 31!? Playoffs?!
2. The trails. Mike was right. They are awesome and I only saw about 4.22 miles of them. Single speed paradise, very high speed, flow, whoops, etc. I was having a blast right up until my pedal fell off.
3. Enthusiasm for juniors. Very rarely do I get to see Novice and Sport riders finish usually do to still being out on course and all. But it was great to see every time a Junior rider come into the finish everyone cheering and ringing the cowbells extra loudly. Everyone typically gets a cheer to a certain extent but juniors get everyone's undivided attention as they come in. It must have been great for them to come in with that many people (hundreds) all cheering.
4. I rode really well (for 4.22 miles). I got a decent start and was positioned far enough up so that I wasn't getting stuck behind slower riders but far enough back so that I wasn't redlining really bad trying to follow the fastest guys. Speeds were really high and there were some high speed washout crashes in front of me early on but nothing that held me up. I felt strong through the first two bigger climbs, even with the new 19 tooth in back.
A guy I have raced against for several years now, who used to beat me by 30mins and more recently by 5-10mins even mentioned after the race that he was having issues holding my wheel heading up those climbs. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better after my DNF but I will choose to think he wasn't for my own sake. I bobbed a bit coming into a corner too hot and got passed by 2-3 riders but I caught back up quickly and was then in the back of a 4 rider singlespeed paceline, which was actually perfect because we popped out onto a fireroad and I was able to draft and do basically no work and rest a bit.
I was feeling great and loving the trails and just waiting for a chance to gas it, pass my paceline mates, etc, etc. and then my pedal fell off. At first it just sounded like a click and I thought I had just rotated my heel a bit too much so I attempted to just click back in but I was having a really hard time finding my pedal this time, i.e. I wasn't even hitting it which I thought was weird so I look down and hmmm thats why I can't click in...its not there. I stop and look back the trail a bit trying to spot it, no dice. Look down and sure enough, still attached to my shoe. Pulled over and tried for about 5 minutes to reattach it, with no luck the threads were mangled just enough on its way out to prevent it from being threaded back in easily. (I was able to get it back in at home in the shed with a wrench and some elbow grease, we'll see how the next ride goes...) So I accepted my fate and started the long walk back to the start, I was of course just about as far away as I could have possibly been.
I can speculate until the cows come home but I felt like I had a really good ride in me that day. Looking at results today, two guys who I have beat in the past came in 10th and 11th and I don't know the guy in 9th but I think I was on his wheel when my pedal came off. I was halfway through lap 1 at 23mins so I was looking at maybe a lap 1 time of 50mins give or take and I usually am just as strong in the second half of a race so I should have been right around 2hrs for a finishing time which more than likely would have put me top 10 out of 31 starters. But who knows like Gina says maybe if my pedal hadn't fallen off I would have exploded in grand fashion at mile 14 or something and hurt myself and DNF'd anyway. Hard tellin'.
So what I chose to take from this is that the fitness is there, I just don't have any written proof of such yet. Onward.
Team tactics meeting.
Me: "I'm gonna have my pedal fall off right when I'm doing awesome."
Shaun: "Good plan, I'm gonna get passed and then dropped by a mom."
Me: "Let's DO THIS."