I raced again this week at Penn Cycles’ Thursday Night at the Races at Buck Hill. But it felt like my first-ever mtb race since last week’s race in the Beginner Class was, um, special. Why? I showed up at the 7:30 pm starting line, only to see about a dozen kids, most if not all under 13. I spotted a dad nearby, Eric Guse, who appeared to be lining up to race, too. But he’d already raced and was there to accompany his son, Ryan.
I felt more than a little foolish but at the advanced age of 62, I’m starting to get used to age-related embarrassments so I shrugged it off and started out leisurely aside Eric. But after a few minutes, I decided to go as hard as I could until I approached the end, at which point, I’d stop short of the finish line. I really didn’t want to be on a podium, denying one of the kids their chance in the limelight.
So I passed one kid after another until I could only see one more, about two minutes from the finish line. As I got closer, I could tell it was a young girl, her blond pony tail flying. She was fast, though, and my only realistic opportunity to pass her was on the long, gravelly downhill right before the finish. It was not to be. Her family was there cheering for her and that seemed to motivate her to go faster. I just kept right behind her to the finish where I pulled aside before crossing the line. I learned later that she was Sydney Carlson, and she finished third. Two boys finished 2-3 minutes ahead of her so I probably would’ve lost to those guys even if I’d gone out hard from the beginning. Dang kids.
I asked one of the women workers at the finish line why nobody told me that the Beginner Class was really a kids class and she explained that normally, they do have a dozen or so adults in the class so they split the awards by age: 17 and under and 18+. Ahhhhh.
The Penn Cycle folks rubbed salt into my wounds by awarding me first place in the 18+ Beginner Class. At least no one laughed loud enough for me to hear when I went up to accept my $10 gift card.
As you can see from these three photos and others in my album of 180+ (large slideshow) it’s quite a festive atmosphere. Props to Penn Cycle owner Pat Sorenson (on the right in the center photo) and staff for a great venue.
So last night I raced again at Buck Hill, only this time in the Recreation Men Class. Two laps, a slightly more difficult course than last week, 59 riders. I finished 50th. Complete results here. I passed one rider, right at the end, which, I must say, was quite satisfying.
And I lucked out: my name was drawn for some swag. I got good pair ($25) of mountain bike gloves (which I really needed) and a "Thursday Night at the Races" t-shirt.