We actually had a sizeable field compared to years past–5 Aggies (me, Shane, Cody, Herc, and Tom), t.u. had a few riders, and MSU had once again stacked the field. I wasn’t so concerned with their cat 3 riders as I was the 4 cat 1’s. Jason and Todd were carryovers for last year, whereas Alexi is a recent addition, as was Josh Carter…husband of the MSU coach. I was in a playful mood, so at the start line I loudly asked which lucky fella had Haga-duty.
The race turned out to be a comedy of errors for MSU, and I was beside myself with laughter. As I learned later in the race, here was the sequence of planned events for the race:
1. Carter would attack immediately. They expected I would follow. I did.
2. Carter would attack again immediately. They expected I would follow again. I did.
3. Here’s where things went wrong for MSU: After Josh’s second attack, Jason and Todd were supposed to counter and leave me behind.
The way things actually went? I ended up off the front with Josh and and Joseph from t.u after the second attack. We didn’t really push the pace…just kind of rode tempo for a little while expecting the counterattacks to come flying by. We checked back and saw we already had a 10 second gap. Josh blurted out, “Well that’s not the freaking plan.” He confessed that he would not be working with us, as he was not the chosen rider of the day. Joseph and I decided we’d keep the pace a nice tempo just as a placeholder. There was no way we would stay off the whole race, so why burn too much energy? Funny how things work though, when MSU forgets a simple plan… By the first climb of the first lap (about 10 miles in), we were out of sight. Josh was irate with his team behind us. At this point, Joseph and I had a decision to make: we could sit up and refuse to drag Josh around all day, and go back to the pack where we would again be outnumbered by MSU, or keep going and hope that we could drop the sprinter on the climbs later on. We pressed on.
Now that I’m finally on the way home after being snowed in at my grandparents’ house in Oklahoma, I suppose now is as good a time as any to write up some race reports….most importantly that of Nationals.
Yes, I’m referring to collegiate mtb nationals from October. Don’t doubt my memory! Besides, the two months between the race and now provides the opportunity for some hyperbole—and nobody will be the wiser!
After the pre-ride of the cross country course, we settled in for a night of Cool Runnings (yeh mon!) and spectacular cooking (I don’t recall if this night was Krishna’s chili, Kyle’s salmon, or Hattaway’s pasta).
The women started first the next morning, so Kathleen headed to the start line while the rest of us had breakfast. Shortly before they were to start, we jumped in the van in time to walk the start route through the village area. Two areas in particular had us concerned—the u-turn at the end of the starting stretch and the bottleneck at the stairs leading to loose gravel. We wished Kath the best, then headed for where the course dumps onto the gravel turn.
We were pleased to see that the gravel didn’t cause too much trouble, and headed to Steve’s rock garden to watch the carnage—er, racers. We debated the best line choices as the racers came through, planning our own routes when our time arrived later in the day. Steve was feeling peppy, and took the opportunity any time a girl slipped up to compliment her bike: “Sweet brake cables! Awesome wheels. Thanks for stopping to show me.”