Sunday was my first expert xc race, and first xc race of '09. This is a whole new level of hurt from last year. The race was the AFC Sugar Hill Patapsco XC race, to raise money for Extreme Weekend Children's Diabetes Camp and Kupenda For the Children. These guys run a non-profit organization to raise awareness for Diabetes, to show those diagnosed with Diabetes and their families how leading a healthy and active lifestyle can move you beyond your perceived limits, and to raise funds for Diabetes research. Several of these guys have comeplete RAAM (Race Across America). I think they even did it on fixed gear bikes one year.
The race was held at Patapsco Valley State Park in Elkridge, MD. Its about 2.5 hours from the Lehigh Valley area. They have many miles of multi-use trails, mostly fast and flowing with one longer climb and few short steep climbs. The course was well laid out, marked well, and well supported.
There were only 14 people in my class, of which 1 or 2 were pro's. Chris Beck (Gary Fisher) started the race at a pretty fast pace - sprinting the first climb. I guess he went out and kept the lead the whole race. He ended up winning with a time 9 minutes faster than 2nd place - he finished in 1:26. I finished in 7th place at 1:45, 19 minutes behind Beck, I'll take that for my first expert race.
I know some things I really need to work on, climbing, pacing, and that extra lap is very challenging. Time to up the training a bit and stop just riding around with no goals. I've always heard of that time called "junk miles" not sure I agree with the term, but understand the concept now.
Next up Baker's Dozen, 13 hours solo - this will be my longest race so far. I did this race last year as duo team with Mike Carter, and we placed 7th which I felt was pretty respectable. I'm hoping for a top 10 finish, but this should really test my pacing abilities (or lack of abilities) as last year I could go out hard and bust out faster lap times as I had some recovery opportunities. Regardless of placing this is gonna be a lot of fun! Lots of people from the area are making the trip to VA for this race.