Saturday morning, Jay and I braved the moderate conditions and mid-day start time to take on the Hillbillies. The race, appropriately enough, took place in Gloucester county.
The course was on fast material but had more corners than one of those crazy dice from Dungeons and Dragons (which no, I've never played). Honestly, if Craig had designed the HP race that way, each lap would be 8 miles long. The B field was about 20 strong, and the start was fast but surprisingly safe.
At the first corner, I was in about 10th wheel, and the field was already lined out. Gaps were opening, but there wasn't much room for a poor handler like myself to pass. It wasn't until we hit the first mulch pit (a dismount-worthy obstacle for the first 2 laps), then the first barrier (who puts a barrier just before a corner?), and finally the pair of barriers (who puts barriers just after a 180-degree corner?) that I was able to do my usual run-fast thing and move up.
I only crashed once... the dude I was following was fooled by the weirdly-designed optical-illusion corner-that-wasn't, and found himself at a dead stop, perpendicular to the direction of the course. I tried to correct, only to find myself ninja-rolling... fortunately, there was no bum-bruising today. This was where Rob, from UPenn, passed me.
I spent 3 of the 6 laps chasing Rob down, finally catching him with 1 to go. Unfortunately, there was a hard-charging single speeder coming up behind me, and I could only hold him off for a little bit before he was on my wheel. I let him past, hoping to sit in, but he cornered too well, and after one particularly loose hairpin I couldn't pull him back. I was almost able to claw back to a fading rider, but I ran out of real estate, finishing 6th.
Jay, in his first-ever B race, fought valiantly to move up through the field. However, he was plagued by a series of dropped chains. The last of these came with about 600m to go, allowing 3 riders to pass him. Jay finished 13th, but certainly had the strength, handling, and fitness to have earned a higher placing.
If there's one thing I've learned at Rutgers, it's that you have to make your own rules about points. In the spirit of Mark's Rutgers Superprestige and everyone's favorite Rutgers World Championship competition, Jay and I tracked down Rob from UPenn to take a "Collegiate Podium" photo, because "sixth" doesn't sound as cool as "first".