Race Report from GSC #2 at Fort Yargo by AMR Bill Bailey: I really had no idea what to expect, having never done a real mountain bike race, and having never ridden the trails at Ft Yargo in Winder, GA. I didn't expect to do very well, my legs weren't "sore" from all the riding I had done in the past two days, but they felt tired. Without being able to ride the course it was hard to warm up. The rain wasn't helping reassure me either. There were a bunch of people in my group XC3 (40-49yr). I decided I was here to learn, not race, this time. I was relaxed, but ready to get going at the start. I got a decent mid pack start, and kept my position heading into the woods, until I blew a turn, and went down. Oh well, I'm learning. I was back on the bike quick, and chased down a few spots. I still wasn't warmed up either. I didn't feel very fluid, especially on the climbs, trying to time my gear changes, and carrying my momentum into them.
In what I would say was the second half of the course I finally felt like I was ready to race, but I also realized my tire pressure was too high. I caught back to the guys I started with after slipping my front tire in another muddy corner, and we had our race within a race. We were probably the most polite group out there, "Let me know when you want to pass" "Whenever is good for you" we traded places back and forth like this for a while, as I moved to the front I joked that he would pass me again when I crash in a few minutes. I didn't crash.
I had no idea how far from the finish we were, but when I got a chance on a long straight section, I pulled away leaving a big gap behind me. As I pushed hard up the climbs I wondered if I had moved too soon, because there wasn't anyone chasing behind me. I knew I couldn't slow down, so I kept pushing even when it was clear I had a big gap. I think I finished about 45 sec to a minute before the little group of 4 or 5 I was in came across the line. Overall I finished 16th out of 32 or so racers in my category. I'm happy with that.
I feel like I put out a good mostly even effort, given my tired legs, and my lack of experience in muddy corners on a mountain bike. It was great to be able to meet some of my team mates, see a few on the podium, and see a couple of people I know from cyclocross. by AMR Bill Bailey