First off, the weather and course conditions were great. They were perfect all weekend, a far cry from last year's blizzard. Organization was noticeably better this year. OTOH, I'm pretty sure there were far less spectators despite the much improved weather. All the belly-aching about instituting a qualifying or seeding procedure seems really unnecessary. The course was wide enough and long enough that if you had the legs it was easy to move up, including on the first lap. I wouldn't worry too much anyway, I'm sure having nationals in Kansis City the next couple of years will go a good bit towards limiting the field sizes. It was great to see all of the mid-atlantic folks and the compound set up by the DCCofD was sweet.
So on to my races, which were a study in contrast in most every way. Pre-rode the course on Thursday and felt good. The course was pretty much the same as last year. They put a few more turns and kinks in it to slow it down a bit and took out the hard dip that was barely rideable or forced a dismount last year. Four dismounts per lap just like last year. So I felt good all day Friday, no nerves, no stomach issues, made sure I ate enough. Lined up in the 4th row on the far left in the 35-39 race. Figured like road racing if you're going to move up you've got to do it along the outside of the pack. Had a good start, moved up on the road and then just kept pedaling on the down hill section (this was the only section where I was consistently faster than those around me all weekend) and made up more ground. At the 180 in front of the pits I pulled the classic auto racing move of diving inside and keeping on the power a bit longer than those in front of me and then out-braking them into the corner to gain a few more spots. At the barriers things got hairy as the guy immediately in front of me almost came to a stop to dismount, I kinda ran into him and had to drag my bike across the barriers, once I hit the long road section it was time to settle in. I felt OK until about half-way thru the race, probably going backwards more than forwards but OK still, then my quads and calves started cramping on the hills and it went pair-shaped as the Brits would say. I've had no issues like this all year despite the fact that pretty much the only time I go uphill or downhill are in races. By the last lap I was pedaling squares and I'm pretty sure I was bonking. Tripped and fell on the first run up, couldn't hold my position or move up on the power sections, and then to add insult to injury I stacked it on a wet root at the top of the descent going to the finish pavement. Lost several more spots on the road to the finish. I ended up 86th, which was top half of the field so I met my modest goal and I didn't get lapped.
On to the 35+ B race on Sunday. So other than spinning on the trainer for 20 minutes Saturday morning I didn't do anything else right. I was on my feet all day Saturday, drank too much Saturday night, and didn't sleep very well. So with a slight hangover and getting more acquainted with the portajohns (both of which I'm blaming on Wes' Bourbon) then one should on race day I wasn't expecting much. Same plan as Friday for the start to stay wide on the left, but it didn't work out so well. I was pinned to the barriers almost immediately and the guys in front of me weren't moving up so I ended up in more of a melee for the first half-lap and shuffled back more than I should have been by the time things sorted themselves out. But the legs were good, so I was giving as good as I was getting. The advantage of having 200 riders in a field is that you race shoulder to shoulder all race. There were a couple of guys around me that would gap me on the technical sections but I had better power so I'd come back to them on the road sections. It was a blast. Only downer was that I started hearing my front wheel bottoming out about halfway thru the last lap. Took awhile for it to sink in that my front tire was going flat. I rode it all the way to the last run up but by then it had given up the ghost. Had to run the descent to the pavement and take it relatively easy on the hill to the finish line. Maybe cost me 5 or 6 spots. I end up 62nd and felt good all race.
Highlights of the weekend were Ryan's great ride to take the 30-34 national title. He battled all race with another rider just behind the leader. It wasn't until the latter part of the last lap that all 3 of them got together, one guy was dropped, and then Ryan outsprinted the other one right at the line. Iron Mike Connair had a stellar ride, almost cracking the top-10 in his age group. Fred Wittwer won his age group. Both of the elite national championship races didn't hold much excitment as both Trebon and Katy were away and headed to victory by the end of the first lap.