Where to start, I have so much to bitch about. First, at the start, everyone is told that that the course is in horrible condition so they are shortening the race, then the waffling starts. There is an open discussion, with random opinions yelled out here and there, no agreement is reached. Then a "vote" is attempted. We are asked who whats to do 5 laps, and a few hands go up. From where I was standing, it looked like a tiny minority, like 5 out of the 23. It is then decided that the race will be 5 laps. The 18 people still waiting to vote for 4 laps are left confused.
Basically, it comes down to this: If your race course is beat to shit and you decide to shorten the race because of it, then shorten the race. You know more about the condition of the course than everyone standing at the start line, so don't ask them what they think. Technically, you should also care more about the condition of the course as well, so you shouldn't let a few racers talk you into further destroying your land, but I don't think this is the case at Pats Peak. As long as the gazebo is still picturesque at the end of the day, nothing else matters. The decision to shorten the race was the correct one, it's too bad it was abandoned so quickly.
Soon after the number of laps decision was made, some miscellaneous instructions were given. One of these instructions had to do with the start, I heard the phrase "You have to follow those two arrow straight ahead, you don't have to go between them, but you have to go in that direction" or something like that. What they didn't mention was that if you didn't go in between them, there was a wheel sized ditch hiding in the long grass. Since mowing the starting stretch is more trail maintenance that Pats Peak feels is necessary, my start was horrible. Both feet on the ground, stem in my crotch, at a standstill after about 8 seconds of racing.
I chased back up to the group, and fell in line up the first uphill section. I then went over the bars in the first bombed out section after the pallate bridge. When I say bombed out, I mean there were rocks and roots, with about 12 inch deep mud holes in between them. And you couldn't go around them because those lines were in the same condition since racers had been widening the trail for at least the last 26 hours, but probably closer to the last 10 years.
My race was not going good, I was off the bike, unintentionally twice in the first two minutes. I decided to get back into the race by staying off the brakes. Long story short, I went off the trail three more times in the next two minutes. This is a racing style I like to call "i'm retarded." Crash, sprint, crash, sprint, crash... James Harmon had a front row seat for this, I hope he found it more humorous than annoying. Sorry James. I eventually realized that I should just try and ride my bike fast, and not worry about how far away the rest of the pack is. I eventually got my shit together and hung out around 20 to 30 seconds behind the back of the pack. On the climbs, the gaps seemed to stay the same, I was just keeping it steady, watching the jerseys up ahead.
You already know my opinion of everything in between the single track after the pond and the top of the decent, so let's skip all that.
At the top of the final climb on the first lap, I came up behind a Cat2 woman that was deep in despair. She was having a miserable time and didn't want to move to the side and let me by, so at the top of the singletrack climb section, where it dumps out onto the doubletrack, she stayed left, and I went straight past her, shortcutting through a huge puddle, then hanging a left into the decent.
Skip to the second lap, same spot. I was pushing hard up the climb since I could still see Colin a few places up. I was hurting, anaerobic. As I've gone over before, my cognitive skills aren't too sharp when I am anaerobic. I got to the top of the single track, and hung a left into the decent. Problem was, it was the left about 20 feet before the correct left. I descended down a washed out fireroad for quite some time, wondering why in the hell someone would lead a race down what was basically a dried up creek bed. It didn't strike me as strange though, because I remembered a part of the (correct) decent from the first lap that was similar to a dried creek bed. I eventually came to an intersection and stopped.
No sign of bikes, no arrows, no course ribbon. Right around then I had figured I was off course, way off course. In my anaerobic haze I couldn't figure out when, where or how I had taken a wrong turn. In the interest of not cheating, my only option was to head back up the way I came. I walked/rode for awhile and after a few minutes I saw some racers riding beside the woods, so I did a little bush-wacking and hoped back on the course between two 40-49 Cat1 racers. I was at the bottom of the dirt road climb that leads into the wooded single track climb, meaning I did that climb twice on my second lap. I probably gave up around 10 minutes with that wrong turn. Keep in mind that I was already off the back of the pack before this "detour."
I was hating the course. The conditions were miserable. It was hotter than hell. I had bug bites. We weren't even an hour in yet and I had no chance of not finishing last. None of these excuses struck me as a reason to drop out, so I raced my bike through the woods. I rode the last 3 laps at my own pace, it was a pace that hurt, but it didn't break me. I passed a bunch of Cat1 guys, and only got passed by one rider (not counting stars and stripes jerseys, or getting lapped by Driscoll and Freye) in the last two hours of racing.
Sure enough, on the next time up the final climb, I saw a piece of course ribbon laying on the ground, and quite a few tire tracks going down the route I took. Somewhere out there are a few other dumbasses that did exactly what I did. They probably turned around much sooner than I did, but let's not split hairs.
What actually happened.
While I was looking for an overhead view of Pats Peak for "the discussion," I noticed that Google maps actually considers the route I took to be a road. No really. Look at that course map again, it's called Craney Pond Road. I added my awesome route down in blue, and my lame route back up in red...
Who's to blame for this?
Me. I'm a dipshit. Promoters can't be blamed for a piece of tape being down in the furthest corner of the course, and Cat2 women can't be blamed for not being friendly in the most miserable of race conditions.DFL.
Let's quickly discuss the nuances of DFL, or Dead Fucking Last for those not in the know. Last place is the last finisher in an age group. DFL is the last finisher in a category. I'm Cat1, and I did not post the slowest Cat1 time of the day. To me, that means I wasn't DFL. Give me that at least, it's all I got.