Tomorrow is Hillsboro, the biggest race in the Midwest when scaled by its payout. There will be 75 amped up 40+ masters racers on the line, and 75 more 50+ taking off 10 minutes later. I’ve done this race 8 times, going back to 2002, and managed to finish 5th twice, but I haven’t fared quite so well since my big crash. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. However, I need to get a grip and race smarter than I have of late. Sometimes I get a bit overconfident, and that was REALLY evident in Tuscaloosa. I didn’t know most of the guys in the race, that’s not my circuit and I’ve only raced in the deep south once at Athens, in a heavily depleted field because of the rain that day. Tom Gates and Robert Gregory were on the line, which was heartening. Tom did mention something a bit disconcerting on the line—that he got dropped in three laps the only time he’d done this race. But, I was feeling good and figured maybe Tom is more susceptible to the big power hills—which I tend to like. Yeah. Right.
I proceeded to take control of the race from the start, not wanting to miss an early break, and I lead up the big hill on Lap 1 and most of the way through….On Lap 2, three guys squirted off the front and I tried in vain to bridge and then got stuck pulling through….On Lap 3…….POP Goes the Darren! I was off the back by lap 5, and relegated to chasing in with Tom and a several others. The main chase eventually lapped us finally giving us shelter. After the results came out I was a bit embarrassed. I was trying to take the race to guys who are WAY better than I’ll ever be or have been. Guys who win NRC cat-1 races on a regular basis, and who win national championships on the track and on the road. Oops. Gotta get a grip and race smarter. Had I raced smart, I might have lucked out and made the break (probably not, they probably would have shelled me if I did). Or I might (more likely) have at least positioned myself to finish in the main chase and had a shot to sprint for last few money slots. Ah well, there is always tomorrow…..