|That's how I felt after this race.
I took the hole shot and led into the first part of the course. First time up the off-camber descent to run-up, I banged my rear wheel and heard it rattle. Ethel's rear quick release had come loose slightly. I stopped to open it, tighten it, close it. Lost about 3 places, but still had everyone in sight. Second lap, I went down in a corner that hadn't given me trouble before. Lost another place or two. Got back up and kept going. Went down in another easy corner, and heard my rear wheel rattling. Rear quick release was loose again. I'd just passed the first pit entrance, and had to go through a bunch of the course before I would pass the other side. A guy in the pit saw me looking for the pit entrance and volunteered to get my bike ready for me. I had to take all of the corners super easy because my back wheel was sliding out from under me. Entered the pit and got to switch bikes almost like a pro! Superstar teammate and former full-time bike mechanic Clay was in the pit to receive my bike. He saved my bacon on this race!
On my pit bike, I tried to start making up some ground. Brakes felt a little . . . not brakey. I managed to finish out that lap, but on a tight 180 around a tree at the start of lap three, my brakes gave up, I couldn't slow down, and I went right through the course tape and into the parking lot. Naturally, this happened right in front of the race announcer with tons of people standing around. I rode a slow circle in the parking lot. I'm pretty sure there are rules against going off course like that. Was I disqualified? Could I get back into the race? Did I even want to? Then one of my friends from the local scene said, "Jamie! Don't give up! Do you want to be in 15th place?" So I hopped back on the course and resolved myself to finishing super slowly . . . Until I saw Clay waving at me from the pit! He'd fixed my A bike, and I was able to change in the pit and get back to some hard racing.
My last lap was the best. I rode everything except for the uphill logs in the woods. I passed two of the women in the 1/2/3 race, which had started a minute before my race. I caught and passed a few more in my race. I was within sight of two more women in the finishing straight, but the end wasn't long enough to outsprint them. I finished 5th of 15, even with two bike changes! I was very satisfied with my racing, if not with my wrenching.
It's fun to think about how I would have done if all had gone well with my bikes. I've replaced Ethel's quick releases. Once I got Fred in the bikestand back home, I discovered that one of the pads on the front brake had come loose from its backing. No wonder it wasn't slowing me down--it was steel-on-steel! I think I could have finished second, maybe even first if I hadn't had the mechanical difficulties. Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter; taking care of your equipment and arriving to the race with your bikes squared away is part of racing!
Big, big, big thanks to Clay for being my pit crew, and congratulations to him for getting third place in the 35+ 3/4/5 race! Congrats also to Beth for getting 2nd in the women's 1/2/3, Chris for getting 4th in the men's 4/5, Eric for getting third in the 45+ 1/2/3!