Sunday, August 27th was a beautiful summer’s day with temps in the upper 70s, no humidity and clear skies. Expo had a good contingent roll up to the starting line in the “old man’s” race. Joe Candeias was able to sneak into the row 1 (good move Joe!). I was in the second row right behind Joe. Off to my left in the 3rd row was Matt Holcomb. It was a nice surprise to see former Expo rider Keith Honda line up with us. BTW – Keith is soon to be a grandfather, congrats to the Honda Family.
The start was the usual sprint on pavement for the first turn, a hairpin turn into the loose, soft, dry dirt. I was able to move up a bit and came out of the hairpin around somewhere in the top ten. I was able to pick off a couple riders on the straight away entering the woods but a small gap quickly opened up with the lead group while I was negotiating traffic. Mitchell Medeiros (the winner by a long shot) was pretty much gone from the get-go. I was able to bridge up to the leaders after a couple of laps. The course was pancake flat with many very turny sections where it was difficult to pass. Much of the woods sections were very rooty, dry and dusty. Knowing the course from the past 2 years I kept the pressure in my tires pretty high so I wouldn’t pinch flat in the roots which made for a bouncy ride but I didn’t have any flats. On one of the early laps after the hairpin turn there is a large mound of dirt with a little lip making a perfect jump with a mini table top. While trying to bridge up to the group of 3 in front of me, I accelerated pretty hard out of the hairpin and thought I would launch it. I almost cleared the table top which was a fun diversion to the race. Stan Lezon happened to be there (he was cheering on his junior boys who were racing with the 55+ group) and saw my feeble attempt at air. As I rode by Stan called out “next time” and I chuckled too myself.
The group I bridged up to consisted of last year’s winner, Eiric Marro, longtime veteran Eric deRivera, David Corrigan and Horst nemesis rider Tom Ricardi. It was fun to watch the race develop with the attacks in our little group. Tom Ricardi had the move of the day passing all 3 of us in one of the few places good for passing. He caught us when we weren’t looking and set himself up well for the last lap. In the end I was able to get by Eiric Marro which was good enough for 5th place.