I raced Morgantown Monster Cross last year. Heather and I drove down, got lost, and ended up getting to the race five minutes before I was supposed to start. I started at the very back of the pack but still ended up placing 13th of 35 riders. Not too bad, all things considered.
This year, things were going to be different. I registered for the Mens 3/4 race. Start time was 1:15, so we hit the road for Morgantown at about 10:00. Didn't get lost. Got there sometime around noon. Plenty of time. I got registered, got ready, rode around the park a little bit (there was still a race underway, so I couldn't do a pre-race lap yet), and waited to hear that the course was open.
Word finally came. I got on the course along with a number of other 3/4s and started riding. I did not check to see what time it was (<--foreshadowing). I was making my way around, and I thought to myself, "This loop feels longer than last year. It's taking me forever to get around this thing. I wonder what time it is."
At that point, I was within view of the starting area. I could see everyone all lined up. I heard cowbells. I saw everyone take off. The race had just started, and I wasn't even there! Meanwhile, I should have been in the second row, based on early registration (and my 9th place finish at Kickoff Cross two weeks earlier).
I made a beeline across the field and got to the starting area so that I could try to catch up with the group. Apparently someone in the front of the group took a spill which slowed the whole group, which was pretty beneficial for me. I was able to catch up to the back of the pack without too much trouble.
Because I was so hell-bent on continuing my forward progress and passing as many people as I could, I never even noticed where the lap cards were. I kept completing laps, wondering when I'd find out if it was my last one. Heather cheered for me every time she saw me.
I finished another lap, and another guy flew past me. I thought it was odd that he was blowing so much energy with at least one lap to go (I still hadn't figured out where the cards were). Shortly after passing me, he slowed down again and I made my way past him easily. I kept going. But I didn't see anyone in front of me. And no one was behind me. I got to about 3/4ths of the way through the course to the big run-up and asked Rick Plowman, who happened to be hanging out there, "Is the race over and no one told me?"
He laughed and confirmed that that was indeed the case. Since I had already gone that far, I just finished the lap. Why not, right? I got back to the starting area and Heather asked me if I had missed the sign that said "Finish" the last time I went through. Yup. I missed it. It was also where the lap cards were being displayed. It also explained why the one guy sped up before we got there on that last lap. He overtook me at the finish and I didn't even know we were done. I still finished 12th, but if I'd had any idea where I was, I probably could've finished 11th. Hell, if I'd been in the second row like I was supposed to be when the race started, I might have done even better.
That's the way it goes, I guess. Unlike last year, this year's Monster Cross is a two day affair, so I have a chance to make up for it tomorrow. We'll see what happens.