Fortunately I’d arrived at the kick-off Cross Revolution race at Silverlake early enough to get in three preview laps. Two words kept circling through my head as I cranked between the tape: cruel and unusual. With its sand and hills I’ve always found Silverlake challenging, but this was nuts, the course setters had managed squeeze a little more hard out of an already hard course.
My warm-up was perfect: three pre-ride laps – slow, medium and fast – fifteen minutes on the trainer and a loosen up jog. My race – Cat 4 45+ Masters – was the first of the day and being the first race of the season the call-ups were according to bib number. My number didn’t come up until the sixth or seventh round (I’ve never had good luck with these random call-ups) but I still managed to get a second row spot.
The start was a bit slow and I hit the first turn onto the grass in fifth position. I quickly moved up into fourth and then third. I was happy holding Jan’s wheel in third but on the second chicane I couldn’t help but pass on the inside. The guy in front – team Bike Masters - slowed on the climb and I passed him, now I was in the lead. Leading the first race of the day was pretty cool; I’ve never been in front before.
According to the spectators who were yelling updates it was quickly turning into a three man race: me, Bike Master and Jan. I saw Jan going the other way on some of the hairpins, so I had some gapage, but Bike Master was on my ass; I could hear him breathing. I was feeling really good on the technical portions and pushed it maybe a little harder than I normally would, but I couldn’t lose that guy.
The sand was totally ridable with the secret being hit it fast and let the bike float. Being in the lead allowed me to ride the sand how and where I wanted. Coming into the final lap Bike Master made a big move and came around. The guy was good at accelerating out of the corners, but I could get him on the hills and in the technical stuff. I stayed within one or two bike lengths trying to walk the line between gassing myself on a pass, taking a technical portion too fast and going down and gunning for the win.
The second to last turn was a hard uphill left and Bike Master went down. This was my chance, but he was too fast getting back on. I tried for a sprint but he had me by two seconds. This was my first podium and I was totally jacked. It was a hard course, I’d rode it clean, and finished well, what more could a fella ask for.