The first of five races that will make up the Captain of the Boat series is in the books. Sure, it was a little wet, but not one person was complaining. Actually, the trails were in great shape. The dry dirt sucked up the moisture and stuck nicely.
A substantial rain almost pushed the event back a week, but at the last minute, the clouds parted. If you only take one piece of trivia away from this, let it be to never let the possibility of rain keep you indoors. Even if you get wet, you’ll still have a great time. Lightning? That’s totally different. If there’s lightning, stay indoors.
First thing’s first: getting to the start of the race. We were to report to Rustler’s Connector. That means taking Rustler’s Ridge for a few miles as a warm-up.
The rain had made the turns fast and grippy! This trail is always fun, but I absolutely love riding it when the dirt is damp like this.
The scene was mellow before the start. Everyone was just happy the rain had let up enough for things to happen.
With a 30 second gap between racers, it didn’t take long to get things moving. Geoff lined up in front of me, which made for some good, motivational pep-talking. If he had made a big enough mistake I’d have been on him like white on rice. As it turns out, my motivational words worked, and he ended up beating me by several seconds!
It doesn’t matter how many races you’ve done, how casual the race may be or how calm you are under pressure; when you are on that starting line and someone says, “10 seconds,” it feels more like 10 minutes.
The big berms and perfect soil made for some incredible turns. I had only ridden this older section of trail a few times, but there wasn’t much to remember.
About 10 seconds into my run, I started feeling the raindrops getting bigger and bigger. Having grown up in the South, I started feeling nostalgia for the conditions. I actually can’t remember ever racing and not being soaking wet. I was pretty sure being so comfortable on wet trails was going to play to my advantage, but I started getting frustrated about my dwindling visibility.
About a minute away from the finish, it was raining pretty hard and I could hardly see. I knew this section of trail really well, which is pretty much all that kept me moving. I thought about trying to take my goggles off, but I remembered how bad of an idea that turned out to be in the past.
The thing you have to remember is that EVERYONE was racing with poor visibility. That’s the good thing about 30-second intervals, a small field and a long race run. It was raining just as hard on the guys ahead of me as it was on the guys behind me.
Times were close, and there was very little room for error in pretty much all classes.
As always, there was plenty of freebies being tossed around as well as a round of applause for the top seats. There are four more Captain of the Boat races left this year. I suspect the overall winners will have their work cut out for them.
Ride safe, and I hope to see you at Round 2 of the Captain of the Boat DH series next Friday, July 15th, 2016.
Mike McCoy, downhill mountain biker