After being more than a bit apprehensive about moving up a category, I have come away convinced I did the right thing, and happy with my performance.
The weekend consisted of three races: a hilly and twisty time trial, a fast and furious short track race, and a XC (cross country) race the next day.
The time trial was not my best effort. I felt sort of detached, and not really into it. I went too easy after an abysmal start and ended up 7th. Not last, but not good. I was faster than the category I raced in last year so had I stayed a Cat 3 I would have won. So, that means I didn’t do as well as I hoped but I belonged in the upper category.
The short track race fit my skills perfectly. Fast, power with bits of recovery and fast sweeping corners. I was spot on mentally and when the whistle blew I took the holeshot. I led until I hooked an obstacle along the edge of the trail and piled it up – hard. I jumped up, got going again but everyone had passed me. I put my head down and battle through most of the field and finished 3rd. I was thrilled.
Sunday’s XC race was the real test for me. I was apprehensive about the increased distance (3x as long as what I am used to racing) and being competitive. The start was ok; I clipped in fine and was with the group easily. However, through a particularly nasty section of the trail the guy in front of my went down, stopping me dead. I had to push to get to the top and remount to get going again.
Once moving again, I moved up through some slower riders (other categories were on the course as the same time) and was passed by the guy who went down. It took me a bit but I chased him down and passed him, permanently. My buddy Jerry was behind me but was feeling better than me and I let him around and he slowly pulled away.
Mid-way through the second lap I started to cramp a bit which took some of the wind out of my sails but I got some water in me and they went away a bit. I soldiered on and maintained my pace, fighting off some serious cramping the whole way. I was gaining on some of the folks ahead of me but by this time the race was done.
Final verdict? Aside from the cramps, it was great. I maintained my pace, felt reasonably strong throughout the race, and had a decent finish – 8th of 11.
Goals from here on are pretty simple – figure out this cramping thing (salt? water? Not sure yet.) and work HARD on my cornering. I am just not as smooth as I should be, but fortunately I can fix that. At least its not that I just can’t pedal fast enough, it just the cornering that is killing me now.
Practice, practice, practice.