Last weekend, Feb. 16-17th was the Sarasota Area race, number 10 of the 2013 FTR season. This would be my 5th race of the season.
They got some rain during the week and then a nice cold front came through so conditions were perfect on Sunday. Not much dust on the course and temps in the high 40s-low 50s at the start of our race, 10:30 am.
My bike fired on the first kick but I still didn't get the best start. Mid-pack approaching the first turn.
I got past one or two guys pretty quickly and was right behind someone in a short field and we blew a left turn in to some palmettos and had to loop back. It was clearly marked, I was just focusing on the guy in front so when he missed it I did as well.
So now I pretty much had to make my way up from the back of the pack as we entered the woods. This course had a lot of exposed roots and it quickly took it's toll as several riders stumbled in front of me and I made my way towards the leaders. (the eventual winner, David 49c was well ahead and probably uncatchable already, unbeknownst to me).
My buddy and fellow Key Wester Steve, 90c and I catching and passing some Senior C (green) riders who start one minute ahead of us.
Steve and I raced eachother for most of the first lap, I would make a mistake and he would pass me, then I'd get by him, and back and forth until he went down near the end of lap 1 and I never saw him again.
I got in to a nice flow for a while with not too many mistakes. I am still a C rider, I still fall, but as I improve I'm starting to ride better and faster in between disasters.
I once again found myself in a nice battle with Larry, 60c. He has won 3 races this year and, like David 49c, has pointed out of C class and will be promoted to B next season. Larry is a smart rider who sets a nice pace and tries to minimize mistakes. I stalked him for a while until I managed to get past him, only to give it back a mile or so later by stumbling or falling.
It went on like this for most of the race. At the end of lap two I managed to look at the electronic scoring board as I went by and saw that I was in 4th. That gave me a little boost, knowing that if I could catch Larry again and get by him I could get a "podium".
Here I am testing the suspension landing a small jump or maybe some whoops at the start of lap 3.
Pretty sure this is what Dungey looks like.
Midway in to lap 3 I caught up to Larry and rode on his wheel for a while. I managed to get by him by taking a better line through a water crossing with a steep, muddy bank on the far side. I set my mind to trying to put a little space between us. I was telling myself to keep it upright, no big mistakes, and I would have it. I thought at this point that I was running in third place when I was actually in second. I passed the sign for mile 9 (of 11) and knew I was close.
I came upon a rider from another class in front of me and had no room to pass for a little while. I knew this was giving Larry a chance to get on my wheel again so I had to be a little more aggressive and I managed a nice pass on the outside line of a sandy right-hand berm.
I was on my way now if I could keep from.......... CRASH!! Down I went. I don't remember how or why but I was down in the sand in a blind corner. As I was standing up Larry came flying by and clipped the back of my bike. He went down and now my bike was facing the wrong way. Larry was up quick and gone and then I made the big mistake.
In my panic to get going and catch him, I stood the bike up, running, in gear with Rekluse, and touched the throttle without pulling in the clutch. The bike lurched forward in to the palmettos with me hanging on behind. I went over the bike, ripped the crotch out of my pants and burned my leg on the pipe. The bike stalled, I picked it up, wrestled it out of the bush, and got it kicked and running.
I was absolutely gassed, gasping for air and so deflated knowing that I had no chance to catch Larry.
I finished the last mile or so and assumed that I had finished fourth. It was my best finish yet but I was a little upset knowing I gave away that third place.
At the finish area, there is always lots of hand shaking and talking about the race, finding friends and asking about their race and stuff.
I found Larry and congratulated him and we talked a bit about the crash and passing each other, etc.
I went back to the camping area with my friends and changed out of my riding gear. We then rode over to the start area to check the final scores and get something to eat. When I walked up to the board and looked at my score I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had come in third!! Woohoo!!
I feel this may be a bit of a turning point for me. I got my best finish yet and also feel like I can run with the leaders of my class. Well, maybe not David. He's fast. I'm excited about the rest of the season even though I will probably only be able to make a couple of races due to how far they are. I'm also excited about next season when David and Larry will be gone. I have a long way to go, but it sure is fun getting better and competing.
Thanks for reading!!