I was lucky enough to have today off for a "training race" at Vultures Knob. Since it wasn't a ombc race I decided to have a go at the next class up, Sport. Since no series points where at stake I had nothing to lose.
I was really excited to step up and see what I could do in the sport class. Off the line I grabbed the holeshot. They had changed the prologue to a more flat section that stayed away from the twisty technical section that gave everyone so much trouble last time. This was a welcome change as it strung out the field much better. I got out in front and let into the single track, I looked over my shoulder to see where everyone was and heard a familiar voice, "Don't worry, we got a good gap on them." It was my good friend Roger. Knowing that I was pacing a friend up front made me push even harder. I peaked above 180 4 times in the mile and a half. This took it's toll on me and the chase group finally caught up to me and passed me. Roger kept going on and ended his day with a second place, congrats to him as he rode a great race.
Soon, the second chase group caught me and passed me. I just couldn't go any faster, my heart rate was pegged above 170 for the first two miles and I finally couldn't push harder. I settled into my own pace and just hung on off the back of the pack. I was still pushing hard and when I hit the gravity jump I went full speed and had my entire body compress because of the G-force. My chin almost touched the bars I fell so low. I trudged on until mile seven where I clipped a tree with my handlebar at about 15 mph. I flew over the bars, dislodging my seatpost and handlebars and ripping the helmet from my head. I don't remember much of it.I remember hitting the tree and then moaning to the rider, Julie Sroka, behind me as she asked if I was ok. It must have been a sight to see from her vantage point, and it took me a while to move out from under my bike. Surveyed the damage, my bike looked fine, but the retention system on my helmet was done. So I decided that I was done. Rode back out to the start and dnf'ed for the first time.
Overall, I'm glad I went up a class. I know I'm a strong novice rider and now I know that I'm not quite ready for sport. This is a learning year for me, and I learned a lot today. By the end of the summer I'm sure I'll be able to hang with the sport riders but I'm not quite there yet. I also learned that my Kenda Karma's, while good in damp to muddy/wet, don't handle as well in dry conditions. The deep and far apart knobs just didn't grip in the dry and loose conditions but a pair of Kenda Small Block 8's would have been perfect, which I will be picking up soon. I now have some time off between races to get back into training and come back stronger.