Personal issues dealt with and weather improvement finally allowed me back to racing for this weekend. It was back to New Jersey for SCCX. I raced this course back in 2015 and I was not a big fan of it. For this year, the course was changed a bit, and I think the changes were for the better. It is still a power course, as it featured soft grassy uphills, which partially turned to mud throughout the day. There was a very steep left sweeping tarmac hill which required out of saddle effort. And finally a head wind on some of the long grassy straights provided another beatdown.
I signed up for the 8:15am Men 4/5 Masters 40+, and the 11:15am Men Cat 4. In each race we completed six laps, and I stayed on the lead lap in both races. In my first race I had a decent start on the long paved slight uphill driveway staying with the lead riders. But turning left onto the first long soft grassy uphill really sorted me to the back of the pack. The Men Cat 5s started about a minute after us, so they would be hot on our tail. In our first race the barriers were not setup, but by my second race they were in place. They were located at the end of a soft grassy shallow uphill that by the time I was able to get to them I was completely sapped. By the last third of the race, it was nice to start lapping some of the Cat 5 riders.
In the second race, I did not get a good start. I also had a lot of fatigue in my legs. By lap two, I was begging my spectating friends to shoot me. The off-camber sections by the pond did not hurt me nearly as bad as 2015. I can not tell if it is due to better handling skills, or the tubular tyres I am running, offering better traction at about 25psi.
With two and a half laps to go, a guy who had been shadowing me for quite some time was able to make the pass. I kept him within ten seconds. On the power sections he was able to open gaps, on the technical I could reel him back in. My fifth lap was very poor, but going into the bell lap, I renewed my will to hunt for the guy ahead of me. Sadly, no matter how much I pushed, I could not close the gap. The only satisfaction is that I closed the last lap with a fast time.