This was my best worst race ever.
With the Cross Crusade patented “Random callup” I was in the last group of 20 called up — out of 220+ racers. (Footnote: this entails group callups based on the last digit of your bib number. Usually the officials draw numbers from a hat or something to determine the order. Yesterday the “random” callup was actually 1 through 0 in order!) So right away there was no doubt that this would not be a big points race. The last-place staging cloud has two silver linings, though: a free six-pack of Deschutes beer and first callup next week at Rainier. So all week I know I’ll be staging top 30ish next week. Not bad.
Anyway, I hate crowds so I decided to be That Guy and slamdance my way through the pack. Elbows, hips and shoulders. One guy tried to stuff me into a tree and another guy tried to stuff me into a fencepost. They failed. (I never ride like this BTW. Packs scare me and I’m normally too polite.) I tried to minimize my That Guyishness by cracking wise, I doubt it worked.
On Lap 1 I had floated up pretty far, I noticed no more zeros and lots of threes and fours. But this is hardly scientific. Anyhoo, just after Lap 1 I pinch-flatted at a pavement/gravel transition and lost all that effort. I hoofed my Gunnar about 1/4 of the way around the course (roughly half a mile), into the pit where I had sagely deposited the Nature Boy for just such an occasion. Like a bang I was off — still not off the back! I was no longer contending for fiftieth but I could still fight for 100th. On my singlespeed. Again.
But on my second lap, at yet another pavement/gravel transition, I flatted yet again. I shouldered Nature Boy — an easier burden than the Gunnar for sure — and watched every last racer pass me. DFL. And like fun I was gonna DNF a third time this season.
Sidebar: I usually ride nearly full inflation. I’d rather float over bad surfaces than dig into them. Yesterday I tried letting a little air out. Never gonna make that mistake again.
So, back to the pit, where I swapped in a neutral wheel, halleluiah! and was back onto the course, well behind the next-to-DFL rider but well into the race leaders.
Food for thought: with a field of 220, even on a 2-mile course (with nine-minute lap times), the snake eats its tail on Lap 2! That’s just nuts. Pity the finish line officials.
I started passing riders all over. Leaders, stragglers, whomever. Actually I was hanging with the leaders all the way through the bell lap, so it’s fun to imagine how this race would have transpired if I hadn’t pitted (twice) or staged dead last. I had a 46:47 finish time (for 4 laps). Based on my HRM data my exertion barely changed riding vs. shouldering the bike, so that effort might have netted me five laps in the same amount of time. In which case, I (theoretically) could have finished around 18th(!) As it transpired I finished 188th of 220+.