The starting area is organized chaos. There were 176 riders in the afternoon race, so here we are all lined up. There are about a dozen rows, each one a class, broken down by various criteria for the afternoon "C" class race, mostly by age. This race actually includes some of the older "B" guys as well - VET, SEN, and Masters, but most are "C" classes split up by age. I'm in the 40+, since I turned 44 the day following the race. The groups are typically separated at 5 year intervals. I'll race the same class next year since it goes by your age at the beginning of the season, that is, unless I can somehow manage to improve enough to ride in the SEN B class. I would much prefer the latter. I will self promote myself if I can consistently finish in the top 5 or so. But even in my 40+ C class, the top 5 seem to be at a whole other level, I've got a ways to go before I can hope to mix it up with them. One practical advantage of doing that would be that the "B" classes are in the first few rows to start, and they are better riders, so the bad bottlenecks that we suffer in the back rows, especially the first lap, are not nearly as bad of a problem.
This is my starting row, I think I'm in row 8 or 9. There were only 2 or maybe 3 rows behind us, so we are near the back. That's my bike right there to the left - #351.
Sorry about the quality of these, these were all screen captures from my helmet cam. My nerves are wound a little too tight on race day to snap many photos, but the helmet cam provides pretty good coverage, if lacking quality.
This lady gets the enviable job of walking up and down the rows, checking off riders that are actually on the line and racing. One hole in the NCHSA posted results is that they only show riders that actually completed at least one whole lap and came through the scoring tent, and got their helmet barcode scanned into the computer. But it does not account for 1st lap DNFs - those that started, but for whatever reason, never made it back to complete at least one lap. Generally, the tougher the course, the larger this discrepancy. The posted hard-copy score sheets at the race show the first lap DNFs - largely as a result of this starting line documentation. The number of trophies that are given out are based on how many riders actually started, so that includes 1st lap DNFs also. So this lady's job is actually pretty important and can make the difference of someone getting a trophy or not, and tallying the overall count of riders in the each class and the overall.
Ran into my buddy Ron on the line - notice the creative helmet cam mount. This is the guy that helped me get my bike un-stuck from that mud-pit at Devil's Ridge
. As such, if I ever see him stuck, I will be sure and return the favor. haha He rides in VET B and flat out hauls!
This is the front of the pack at the starting area - first row is VET B, followed by SEN B. I would love to be racing in SEN B in a year or two if I can improve enough. I've got a good ways to go before I can hope to hang with these guys, though.