We started of heading down to Louisville, KY on Wednesday because you have to check in and pick up your number the day before you start racing. As well, the course was supposed to be open for a while on Wednesday for pre-riding. Well, in our usual style we didn't make it down in time to pre-ride the course but that was OK as it had rained all day and was a huge mud pit.
Thursday I push my lovely wife into getting to the track hours earlier than needed to get to the qualifying race. That gave me time to watch how other guys were getting around the track, walk the track, and prep for the race. By a stroke of luck we parked two cars down from Jared, CJ and crew from Crossniacs. Nice, good to meet the folks. As for how guys were getting around the track it was just trying to stay upright and get through the mud. It was as much survival as anything else.
When it was time for my race I didn't survive so well. Off the back a bit from the start but not too bad, until chain got stuck between the chain rings in the sand pit. Jump off, watch guys go by as I fix. No problem, I'm thinking. I've got a pit bike ready. I catch the last couple of guys, pass them on the run-up/flyover and head to the pits. Come out with B bike and catch up again. Get past these two guys after a bit of work, then fall in a corner. Get up, chase back on, work to get around them and then fall again. Even more spectacularly. Ugh. Get up, run up the hill, try to run down the hill (no way I was going to chance wrecking again!) and promptly fall. Get up again, try to get going and headed down the steeper hill I fall. AGAIN. By this time I'm laughing because it's better than curling up like a fetus and bawling my eyes out. Get to the pavement and I'm pulled. One of my worst laps of my life. It was like I hadn't ridden in mud before. Oh yeah, temps dropped like 20 degrees between the time we got to the track and the end of my race, which made trying to wash bikes with partially functioning pressure washers a chore. But they did have pressure washers. Can't argue with that. And I made it to the final championship round. Can't argue that, either.
The next day we washed out the clothes - we literally scrapped off 5 lbs. of mud off of my kit before tossing them in the wash. Went out to get better shoes as I saw the benefit on the muddy hillside of having shoes that allowed toe spikes. Ran in to the fabulous Rudy and Julie Lewis-Sroka at On Your Left Cycles. Good folks & good folks at the shop but didn't have what I was looking for. They directed us to Clarksville Schwinn who did have what we were looking for and offered us a great deal. Nice people, treated us great. We also had dinner with the only other Central-Ohioan racing that weekend, Doug Carraway. Good dinner, great company. We didn't race on Friday but the temps had dropped considerably overnight so that those racing had to deal with frozen ruts in the mud we made the day before. One broken wheel that I saw, one broken bone I heard of in those treacherous conditions. Yow.
Saturday was race day. Temps had warmed up some to above freezing. Which meant course conditions were a layer of mud on top of frozen ruts. That was real tricky because with the mud you could slide a bit, get caught in a rut and BOOM right on your butt. Or head. Lots of guys were hitting the deck. My beautiful bride Catie is my pitting for me and I'm thinking I'm going to need her for at least one bike change as muddy as everyone was getting.
Before my race I has seen the parts of the course where a flat-ish patch began to develop. Keep it in mind, new MO is to survive this race more than hammer. Then the whistle blows and we're off. I'm off the back at the start until everyone is trying to stay on the one foot wide path and it all jams up. I can make time up and pass guys if I can "float" over the ruts. Doesn't always work but does well enough at the start. Having a good race, back and forth with Mark Fasczewski. Everyone bobbles but half way through lap two and I catch a rut that sends me right into a course stake that promptly nails me in the jewels as I go ass over teakettle. Oh geez, that hurt. Took me a good minute to recover. Which means Mark got past me and got some distance. When I feel good enough I get on the bike and go go go. At the end of the lap I'm drawing pretty close and I think when we get on to the pavement I'm going to jump. Yeah, well, we got pulled at that lap - Mark, Devon Alvarez and myself. One more lap, I could have gotten by those two is what I'm thinking. Of course, one more lap and I could have bit the dust harder, too. C'est la vie, that's racing. Mark stayed up when I didn't so he's 53rd in the World and I'm 54th.
Afterwards I'm getting changed into not-so-muddy clothes and Beautiful Bride/Pit Crew offers to start washing my bikes. While she's standing in line for the pressure washers I wander off to cheer on my Crossniacs teammates. Then I walk the course cheering for Doug Carraway. Oblivious about the bikes. My wonderful wife takes care of both bikes while wondering where in the hell I went to. Yes, I left her holding the bag... er, bikes. I owe her big time.
|Mud collecting apparatus|
Did I ultimately do as well as I hoped the week before? Yes but seeing how things unfolded I could have done better. More things to work on. Was it a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Yeah I suppose you could say that. And I owe my wife one heck of a dinner.
The crew that put on the Masters Worlds did one heck of a job. Each day after racing they were working on the course, trying to make it safer and better for the racers. Check in went easily enough. Podium presentation at Fourth Street Live on Saturday night was a great idea, showcasing to the rest of Louisville what sort of event was going on in their town. Results were almost immediate. I think they are ready for the Elite World Championship next year.