Since I am down in Eugene for the week, I thought I'd see if there were any cross races in the area. Sure enough, there was the final race in a series of twilight races at Detering Orchards between Coburg and Harrisburg, about 21 miles outside of Eugene.
My oldest son, grandson, and third son went with me. Detering Orchards is one of those places that has lots of entertainment in the Fall. There are pumpkins, tractor rides, and of course, lots of apples. In fact, next weekend is their big Apple Days Festival. But, I digress...
I have never done an OBRA (Oregon Bicycle Racing Association--I think) race. They don't use the numerical category system--it's alphabetical, but only A, B, C. There's no fourth category. So, what's a Cat 4 gal to do? Since Cat B and C would be scored together, I opted to race Masters Women in the hopes there wouldn't be too many super fast 35 year olds (that's what they consider Masters). There appeared to be a couple of gals near my age. But, I really don't know how many of us Masters there were.
I registered at 5:00, and wasn't racing until 6:00. This gave me some time to pre-ride the course. This was a very good thing because on my first pre-ride lap, I ended up going backwards on the course twice! On the second lap, I managed to go the correct way. There is no yellow tape, just red and yellow cones. Apparently, if you are going the correct direction, the red cones will always be on the right. Good to know! The course was mostly flat, with some little funky off-camber "humps". There were three barriers. Two not far into the course, and one just after the finish line. There was also a shallow section of water to ride through (seemed like it might have been part of a creek). The course went through it twice. I managed to completely soak my feet. At least it seemed fairly clear--not some kind of cow manure runoff. There were also a couple of long straight stretches. These were somewhat boring, but good opportunities to pass.
The race started promptly at 6:00 (there was another race at 6:30, and they wanted to make sure there would be enough daylight for them). The C men went first, followed by the Women and the Masters Men and Women. The Beginners were last.
I got my usual less-than-speedy start, but I caught up to one of the gals and passed her before the first barriers. Then, as I went to dismount for the barriers, my left foot did not come out of the pedal. Hal went down right in front of the barrier (effectively blocking most of it), and I did a few stumbling steps before going down to the ground (I almost managed to stay on my feet). I picked up Hal and got him out of the way and continued over the barriers, remarking to the gal I had just passed, how the bike did not want to release my foot.
The course wasn't too bad going out, but once it turned back, the sun was directly in my eyes. It was a beautiful sunny day, so there was nothing to block the sun. There was one off-camber part where I was completely blinded. I just hoped for the best. On the second long straight stretch coming into the sun, most people seemed to be taking a line that looked potentially smoother, but it was all in the sun. The line to the left was, at least, partially shaded, so I could see where I was going.
On the second lap, I passed the same gal again. This time I made it out of the pedal, and over the barriers without incident. I did happen to turn a little soon later on, and ended up going down a different "lane" in the orchard part. In the third lap, I finally got by this guy on a mountain bike for good. It was because he went the wrong way, and had to turn around (I actually saw a number of people go the wrong way--I didn't feel so bad about doing it myself).
I finished with three laps. I was down a lap, which I fully expected. I don't know where I placed. Apparently, they will post the results in a couple of days online. The hardest part of the race was the sun, and trying to stay on the course and not go the wrong way. It was tough to get used to cones. It was, however, fun. I especially enjoyed the fresh cider that we bought!