Halloween day saw another break in the Mabra series with the Pax Velo Cycling Club's All Hallows CX Race. Once again I saw this as an opportunity to get some experience and race in the regular 3/4 category. The course had a little of everything to offer. A steady rain the prior evening and morning of the race turned a seemingly simple section of the course into a slippery mudfest. After a long, slightly uphill grass start the course ventured out over some fast fireroads before heading into the woods over rooted single-track. I started on the second row but was able to get to the front by the time the field entered the first turn. The first lap was a mad pace and slowly weeded out the competition. The lead group was down to four by the middle of the 2nd lap. The pace continued to be high but was feeling good about the situation. Most of the course was flat so I sat in as much as possible to conserve energy. I was confident in and out of the slick corners and felt I could stay close and try and make a move later in the race. My only concern was the mountain-biker friendly single-track on the backside. My skills in that area are a bit weak and there is not much terrain similar to that throughout the season. I was getting gapped each time through and had to dig hard to get back on with the lead group. I continued to fight hard but finally lost touch with a little over two laps to go. We entered the long muddy stretch where the tires dig in deep and you have to give it all you have just to propel the bike forward and keep it upright. I quickly went in to the red zone. My legs were screaming as they filled with lactic acid. Stephen Wahl and I could only watch as Andrew Welch and Rusty Williford eased away. I had aspirations of recovering and chasing them down but it was not meant to be. I really suffered from all the previous efforts and had to focus just to get through the rest of the race. One rider slipped away from the chase group and settled in with me and Stephen. I knew the podium was in reach as long as there was no mistakes so I found a effort level I could live with and rode in for a 5th place podium finish.
The Mabra Series starts up again next week in Upper Marlboro, MD. My win last week puts me on top of the standings in the B Masters so I will be looking for a victory and to preserve my 1st place ranking.