Henry Clay 30K WVMBA Series ChampionshipSo we loaded up the van Friday night and headed for Morgantown Saturday morning leaving Corolla and the sharks behind. The next day would be the Henry Clay series championship in Coopers Rock State Forest. In the series standings I was still 3 points away from the leader, so unless he finished 5th place or lower, which was only going to happen if there was a major mechanical, I wasn't going to win the series. Still my goal was to finish 1st in the championship race and beat all the point leaders.
The first half of the race was a break neck pace with point leader Dave Brown, vet Danny Welsch and two or three of the top sport open riders pushing the pace. Several times I looked down at my heart rate monitor and witnessed it near red lining at 99%, remarkably I was able to continue the pace with my heart rate at 95% plus. Several times Dave Brown, myself and Danny Welsch traded spots, pushed out ahead and fell behind but rarely lost site of each other.
Mental Games and Keeping the PaceAt the front of the pack a lot of the racing is playing mental games with the other races. You know once you loose sight of a racer your ambition begins to wain and you risk letting them get far enough out in front that you'll never be able to catch them again. The other danger in pulling back is you may get caught in traffic and lulled into following a slower racers pace. Traffic really works me against since I'm slower on the climbs and faster in the descents and flats where it's much harder to get around other riders. So I do my best to stay out in front without going so hard I blow up.
Dark HorseAt the starting line I noticed an unfamiliar face, a nearly bald head who looked like he was the right age for the vet category. He had a blue sport class plate strapped to his bike and I made a mental note of his riding jersey with the bright yellow sides. Didn't give him much consideration, probably just another random rider showing up to race. This wasn't the case I knew he was a contender when he pulled ahead on the long paved climbed at the race start and he entered the woods out in front of us.
Eventually I pulled passed Dave Brown and Danny and hooked up with Chris Lynn the 2nd place sport open point leader. We struggled against each other for quite a while. I wsaw him taking the alternate route across the creek on the walking bridge and witnessed him falling off. Ouch man! The next perfectly good bridge we came to I watched him ride around it through the bed of a small brook. I had to chuckle to myself. Eventually Chris backed off and I was able to pull ahead. I peddled frantically searching for the sport open leader Baji and hoping to catch site of the mystery rider with the yellow jersey. Caught quite a few experts racers who started five minutes ahead of us but I never saw the yellow jersey.
When I came across the finish line I wasn't surprised to see I wasn't the first sport vet to cross. The dark horse, Scott Benson, a road rider from Morgantown had shown up to race his local trails and snatched the winning spot in the last race of the series. It was ironic I put in my best effort beat all of the vet point leaders, master point leaders and all but one of the sport open point leaders to finish the race 2nd in my class.
I finished out the series racing 9 of the 15 races with a respectable 2nd place and David Brown taking a well deserved 1st place and putting in one hell of an effort. It was a great season and never thought I'd get this far starting off my first race with only a 4th place finish in the Sport Vets and 10th in the entire sport field. I came a long way.
2009 WVMBA Sport Vet Series Winners
- Calvin Leport (4th)
- Dave Sopko (2nd)
- Dave Brown (1st)
- Acie Hylton (3rd)
- Danny Welsch (5th)
Ok I'll cover bug spray and trail rash in another post but I will say this, even though antiseptic and bug spray share that same familiar green spray cap, Deep Woods Off makes for an extremely painful trail rash antiseptic.
More on the Henry Clay Series Championship
Knobby Meats most excellent race report highlights all the SS class drama.