I woke up nice and early yesterday morning. Got my coffee and took off in my wife's car for the first of a three race series up at Folsom Lake, North of Sacramento. As I drove I remembered that one of my favorite things of bike racing is early morning road trips and the opportunity to watch the sun rise over parts of California that I normally don't get to see. Wonderful.
Got to the race, picked up my number, got changed and did a warmup on the course. I didn't think I had the right stuff today since the warmup wasn't so great. I felt a little sluggish and thought maybe the lingering bits of my cold were still in effect.
The course was wide open for at least a mile before the first single track so there were no worries about position for the hole shot. We went off and my first thought was, "I really need to move up or one of these guys is going to take me out." There was some serious lack of riding in a straight line going on back there. I moved up easily and pretty soon was weaving in and out of the draft of the front runners. When we hit the first singletrack there were three of us alone up front and I was second into the woods.
The first lap went well and I passed a ton of folks since all the groups started since close together. I got passed too with a guy with a helmet cam coming by me when I screwed up a big rock on a climb.
Having looked at previous race lap times, I knew I was doing pretty good when I started the second lap with about a 30 minute first lap (good for novice category anyway). I was passed again and stayed with another guy as long a I could on the second lap but couldn't stick with him. Coming into the last half of the last lap, I passed a guy who turned out to be in my category that I somehow hadn't kept track of. He stuck on my wheel and then passed me again. I sucked his wheel for a few minutes and then decided I wasn't going to suck wheel and then sprint so I gassed it up to full throttle on a wide part of the track and went into time trial mode. A few quick looks back revealed I was well clear. In fact I also reeled in the guy with the helmet cam and ripped right by him.
As I came to the end I was passing two people from the Sport category who had another lap to go. Being unfamiliar with the course, I was saying "FINISHING, FINISHING!" as I went through the most crowded area. All I heard was "...Right.....RIGHT" so that's the way I went. A few minutes on I knew something was wrong. A few minutes more and there was a sort of feed zone. I yelled, "Where's the finish????" and the guys just looked at me. I kept going but knew something was wrong. I rode backwards to the feed zone guys and they finally figured out how to communicate (with attitude "It's your responsibility to count your laps" -no shit, I can count to two!) that the finish was way back behind me. At least they accurately pointed me back to the course where I very angrily got back to the junction point and went LEFT to the finish.
An angry -but completely pointless and frustrating- exchange with the promoter followed where he used a healthy dose of condescention and stubborness to get rid of me.
I didn't stick around for any of the awards ceremony or anything and drove home in a VERY dark mood.
Imagine my added DAMMIT reaction this morning when I looked at the first page of the preliminary results below. They show me finishing 13th overall (out of ~60). But I know the numbers of the two guys I passed right at the "end" and I would have finished THIRD OVERALL AND NOTCHED A WIN for my age category without the wrong way disaster.
Oh man I'm frustrated this morning.....