The woods section is an absolute nightmare and I feel like I am being tossed about like a rag doll. I'd swear the suspension is blown out at both ends and the frame cracked in half, the way the bike is handling. I'm going fast where I should be going slow, and slowing down to catch my breath where I should be hauling ass. Funny thing is, I am still picking off riders in front of me. Most of them move over at the revving of my engine, but a few do not. The unwritten rule is that a slower rider out in front moves over to let a faster rider by, since we are racing against the clock and not necessarily the guy in front of you. The overtaking rider will generally let you know he's there by revving the engine or yelling (I was surprised, but you can actually hear them quite well despite all the noise). I've been using my left hand to signal riders by to avoid problems. I've gotten several waves and a few 'Thank You's'. I'm amazed at how the AA class riders seem to just float over the course as they sail past, while every jolt and bump weakens my arthritic body.
About halfway through the woods I hear another rider behind me. A glimpse of orange and I know he's on a KTM. I pull over to let him go by, but he does not pass. I try again and he still does not pass, so I continue on, just trying to stay upright. Finally I stall the bike on a particularly rutted section and the KTM rider is forced to go by or hit me. He passes and I catch the "S" at the end of his numbers. He's in my class. This will not do.
The chase is on, the scent is in the air and blood on the ground. It's obvious how exhausted he is by his body language, making as many mistakes as I am and it's just a matter of time before I pass him mired in a desperately rutted and muddy section. I have no idea what place we are in, but the only thing that matters is as long as I am ahead of him, I will not be finishing fucking last, which is good enough for me!
He's right on my ass again, the break in the woods that will dump us back out onto the grass track appears. If I don't get some time on him, his 450 will eat my ancient little KDX up on the straightaways. My mind tells me to wick it up now, but my body is late to respond. I miss a corner and end up on a really crappy line that leads me over a slippery rock outcropping. The KTM rider takes the easier line and makes a pass on me. I leave the course in an attempt to keep up, hitting a virgin section of ground that proves to be even more slippery than the worn path, and promptly go down like a ton of bricks onto a ton of bricks. Up as fast as my quivering jelly muscles can move, but it's too little too late as the KTM hits the grass, hits the gas and disappears like a dream in the sun. Nothing to do now but finish. And finish I do.
In seventh place.
Out of 30 riders in class.
The only guy riding a bike that was built in the last century. In my first off road race. Yeah, it's not a win, still, I can't help but be a little proud.
|Post race nose-picking?|
|Trying to appear fresh as a daisy while my body seizes.|