While Salem was attempting to visit Hartford in the most difficult way possible yesterday, I decided to go out to Farmington to race on what I'm assuming were the only passable trails in the state: Winding Trails. I grew up near Winding Trails and that's probably why I'm a bad mountain biker. The Farmington River valley probably has 20-25 (30?) miles of trails from rt 4 in Farmington to rt 44 in Avon, it's twisty, but there aren't any rocks or climbs. My parents wouldn't let me ride up to the Reservoir until like ninth grade because they thought the roads were too busy. Sometimes we'd climb up this cliff at the top of Stonefield in Farmington and but through a friend's dad's yard on Deercliff, but that was really complicated. Going downhill into the river valley was way easier.
So, anyway. Winding Trails is a popular mountain bike race. Every year it seems to get a slightly better course and this year, due to construction at Walton Pond and the world's biggest sand castle, the course was slightly shorter but featured a lot more singletrack. It was great.
29 people started with me. I didn't get to the line at the first call, so I took a spot in the second row. To my annoyance, people later than me still tried to crowd in the front and to the side of me. For that reason, I started out the gate in like 15th or 20th, but everyone went to the left up the first little dirt road climb, which was weird because I thought that was the bad line. I went left and entered the singletrack in 9th or 10th. I beat a few more people in wider sections and got into 4th near the rails-to-trails with the three person lead group about 100 yards in front of me. I caught them on the way to the powerlines. I passed a sort of hipster-ish guy on an S-Works to get into third. The trail turned back on to singletrack and this guy in the Bike Barn kit rode off the front and I never saw him again. The second place guy from Rhode Island, or at least his jersey from was Rhode Island, tried to bridge the gap, but succeeded in getting about 200 yards ahead of me. I stayed in third by about 30 seconds for the rest of the race. The fourth place guy, who was not the hipster, but instead a guy in a bikereg kit, stayed about 30 seconds or so behind me the whole time. It was a fun race, even if all the action was in the first 1/3 of the first lap. And, for the first time in ages, I wasn't lapped by any of the 30-39 guys. It was close, they were closing near the finish.
Speaking of lapped riders, I have a bone to pick. I'm crappy racer, no doubt, but I'm respectful and pretty chill. So, when I came upon a guy that I'm lapping and he tells me to "pass at my own risk" or another who blocks my pass when I'm announcing it, I get pretty annoyed. The women I lapped were very nice (and I was totally impressed by the woman racing on a 'cross bike). I have to admit that it's pretty weird that people were being lapped in a three lap race, but just because your ego is being bruised, it doesn't mean that you have to try and wreck the races of others. It's Cat 2 and there weren't even socks to win!
In other racing news, alley cat(s) racing is tentatively returning to Hartford (or at least the Hartford line). There hasn't been one since that Halloween one a few years ago. It's being put on by Orion and his friend Matt. Orion won the alley that I put on a few springs ago. So, you should do this one in May: