I arrived in Gloucester with plenty of time to register, warm-up, and pre-ride the course. What I didn't anticipate was maybe wanting to clean my bike off before the start or the fact that it would take me a fair amount of time to get around the course with it being so sloppy. Slop - what a fun word. Anyhow, John and John were Skyler's buddies for the day, and she had a blast hanging out with them while I slopped it up. So I finished my inspection of the course with just under 20 minutes to spare, rode up to my car to drop my water bottle and grab a GU, and by the time I got down to the start area, I'd missed my call-up to row 3 or 4.
My start in the back of the pack didn't really bother me; I don't have enough experience to warrant a good starting position just yet, and it wouldn't have been fair to people who've been doing this longer. Last row was just fine. However, as we hit the mud and I found myself having to dodge other riders, I soon saw the value of starting closer to the front. At one point, a girl fell in front of me and I rode directly into her. We politely apologized to one another and were on our way, but in the meantime, the field was getting pretty stretched out. Over the course of the first lap, which seemingly took forever, I was back and forth with a few other girls, and I tried my best to ride as smooth as possible.
To sum it up, I managed to stay on the bike when necessary, and I shouldered my bike the proper way on the dismounts, but I had some really ugly moments out there. All semblance of technical ability was left on the first lap. I learned a LOT in those three laps (I think it was three anyhow...). The course was definitely challenging and fun. It would have been nice to experience the double-race thing and do Saturday's race as well; from what it sounds like, the course was an entirely different animal. Maybe someday I'll be up for it, but for now, Saturdays I am up for delivering mail.
I ended up finishing 38th out of 42 finishers - there were a handful of DNFs and DNSs, too. I wasn't last, and I finished, barely. It certainly was a learning experience. Today, my shoulder is sore, it hurts to wear my backpack full of books, and I think I still have some mud in the corners of my eyes, but climbing four flights of stairs with said backpack seems a lot easier than climbing a muddy hill shouldering a bike covered in 20lbs of debris. Believe it or not - I'm looking forward to doing it again. The Night Weasels Cometh this Wednesday to Shrewsbury!