I was really looking forward to this race because it was flat and fast with ample sections to hit the gas and keep it down. Last year it was the first of two races I did where I finished in the top 50%. Of course, that was in the Cat4 race; the Masters Cat3/4 race, while not necessarily faster overall, has a much shallower slope on the curve from first place to last. They also made some changes to this course this year, breaking up all of the good power sections with twists and turns and making us have to accelerate more frequently than last year. Acceleration, like climbing, is not my thing. I also built a new bike for this race: a BMC CX01 with an SRAM Red group and I only finished putting it together the night before. I didn't get to do my leg openers on Saturday and only managed a quick test ride on the new bike, which seemed to be in good shape.
Race day morning was normal and I got to the race venue by 8am and did some recon laps of the new layout. I had a disappointing start again and was passed by a bunch of guys out of the gate. By the time we got to the barriers I was well down in the pack. After about two laps I started to feel really stretched out on the bike and couldn't figure out why until I noticed that my bars had started to rotate forward. I stopped in the pit on the second half of the second lap and swapped out the new bike for the old losing five to six spots in the process. I managed to get back one or two of those spots by the time I crossed the finish line for the start of lap number three and felt like I was settling into a good pace, for me at least. There were a couple of guys ahead of me who I caught and exchanged places with several times until the last lap when either they hit the gas or I blew up. Just before the finish I was passed by the race leader who had a very nice gap on the rest of the field and so I finished a lap down (6 minutes and change) to the leader in 80th place of 92 starters.
No races this weekend as Karrie and I celebrate our fifth year anniversary. Next race is DCCX at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in the District of Columbia on October 24th.