The King of Burlingame mountain bike TT is an oddity. Thats not to say it's a bad thing. It is in fact a lot of fun and a great way to start the racing anew in a fresh season and in a low key event.
It's a 7 mile loop around a pond in a state park in RI. It confuses me as to why people would say this is a "roadie's course" or "not that technical". There are parts that are pretty much just dirt roads, yes. BUT, (there's always a but) there are some serious boneyards out there too. Rock gardens, fallen trees, numerous roots, running water crossings, tricky slimey wooden bridges, and deep, dark, mysterious puddles. Oh ya "roadie course for sure". uhhmm NO!
I am the defending "King", so I figured I'd better go race and defend my crown. "It's good to be king." Having won the previous year I got to go first, but thats not the way a TT usually works. It's usually the fastest guys go last, but since it's in the woods on mountain bikes maybe it's an advantage to not have to make any passes. In that regard it may be an advantage. However, they're were no rabbits to chase....although I did see some sort of otter and a white tail deer.
Last year I had fast guys to chase and that helped immensely to make me push. This year I had to just rip it and stay mentally focused.
I rode the technical sections that come early on a lot better than last year and avoided the crash that I took last year also. I got on top of the gear in the power sections and had a really good feel going. I knew I was faster at certain points than last year and that was positive reinforcement to hammer. The ground was wetter and there were some puddles that scrubbed some speed off too, but I felt excellent and knew I had a potentially race winning ride going. I railed all the wooden bridges and charged hard to the line. I was pretty sure I had gone as fast as last year's course record time, or at least very close to it. I figured the only one that could threaten that ride would be my teammate Kevin "The Missile" Hines. But I had crushed the power sections so hard that I held out hope that I might even have sucsessfully defended the title.
I was soaked to the bone from the last big puddle that had sent a wall of water over my entire body, so I just spun right on down to the parking lot and got on some dry shoes and then rode up to the start a few miles away and got all the team's jersey's and bottles and then headed back. The troops were all done now, we had a great crew representing. Aside from Kevin and me we also had Sammy Morse and Bill Shattuck. 4 guys in the expert field at a mountain bike race is pretty sweet!
Well the results came up and I was very surprised. Not that Kevin beat me. I figured he could do that, after all he beat every fast guy in New England at the Golden Bike race in Hingham last year by 7 minutes. Do you have any idea how much of a beatdown 7 minutes is? The guy that got 2nd was the guy that beat Tim Johnson earlier in the year. So, NO I wasn't surprised Kevin beat me, I was just surprised that my time was over a minute slower than last year's when I rode sections of the course much better, and actually have better fitness than this time last year. I guess the ground was a lot softer than I realized and I didn't push myself like I should have, but I'm sure glad the Crown stayed in the Corner Cycle family.
The Missile told me he was coming after my crown some time during the cross season, and I can honestly say I didn't lose it, but was beaten for it. I showed up fit and ready to rip, put in my best ride and he just stomped me! ;o) Well he may have the crown, but thanks to that slow earth, I still have the course record......for now.
Seriously though, I don't think anyone is gonna beat Kev on a mountain bike all year. The guy floats through the boneyards and climbs like Roger, he has plenty of power on the straight forward sections, he doesn't cramp, and can ride for 6 hours, so you tell me how you plan to beat him. He even knows how to crash propperly!
Anyway, it was great to get out there again and see some familiar faces. Thanks to all the folks that helped promote the King Of Burlingame. I hope to see you again next year.
Thanks for reading, JB