I have a love hate relationship with Silver Lake. I love the course - twisty, technical, short power climbs that suits the mountain biker in me. However, there are long sandy sections that may or may not be rideable. So usually I end up hating the course because of the sand. It's usually fluffy dry sand that entices you to try and ride it, but as you get weak ploughing through it it can stop you dead and the runners have a field day leaving me to kill myself to stay on the bike.
Not so this time. The downpour of rain the previous day left the course the wettest I've ever seen it. The sand was compact and super rideable. This would not be a runner's course! Also, the course utilized more of the available area and had more punchy climbs vs a long sustained climb. Definitely mountain biker friendly.
Pretty much from the beginning of the race I slotted into 5th place. I was happy with this. I knew I wouldn't make ground on the gals ahead of me because they are all super strong this year. I wasn't worried about the gals behind, because I was comfortable with all of the course and had a healthy gap on the next gal back. Until the 3rd to last lap, when I started feeling my rear wheel acting a bit squirrelly in the corners. Then it started feeling harsh, like rim on pavement kind of harsh. Damn it, it was rim on pavement. Flat tire!
This course was not going to let me love it. At the furthest point from the pits, I had to run. No sand to run, but I still had to run half a lap! My running is not pretty, my running is not fast. I tried to channel the inner gazelle in me, but to no avail, the heffalump came plodding out. After what seemed like an eternity, and being passed by what seemed like the entire field, I got my pit bike and hopped back on. I seriously didn't know how far back in my field I was as there was some mixing in with the Cat 3s.
Then came my night in shining armor - BC, the head of the singlespeed race passed me. He tried to give me a little pull, but his legs just won't go that slowly. I was secretly quite elated that I'd be pulled coming through the finish line because I figured my race would be better over sooner rather than later. Coming through the start finish, I saw '2 laps to go' and no one pulling me. This was all wrong, I didn't want to do another 2 laps. The run had taken everything out of me!
So, with 2 laps to go I figured I'd see how many places I could make back up. My pit bike was quite the zippy little thing. I forgave it for not having disc brakes as it was so darn light and was like a fresh horse under me. I picked away and burnt lots of matches overtaking in silly places just to get ahead of as many racers as possible. Then I spotted the gal who had been behind me before my flat. She was ahead by several corners, and it was close to the finish line, but still, I had to give it my all. I didn't catch her, or the gal behind her, but I did close the gap down to 30 secs and 12 secs respectively. I had made it back to 7th place. Frustrating and painful, but respectful.