Monday, February 18, 2008

Team Mack Tour De Groundhog CX Race

C-Money and I were in high spirits on the way to Springfield IL for the first race of the season. I was really apprehensive about my fitness level. I've got a little over 1200 miles in my legs so far this, year but it's all been very strict base training. I knew it was going to hurt when I hit the red line. Still, I was really exited to race! The weather was terrible and there was standing water everywhere, a little snow and ice and the weather report was for "definite" rain and temps in the 30's. Sweet.

There was some pretty big money ($1000/10 places deep) and I had talked Christopher into doing the big boys race since there were only 12 racers last year and with the conditions there would probably be less making the money spot a close to sure thing... Boy was I wrong. We lined up with 29 racers in the open including Nate Rice and the guy who got 2cd overall last year. I had managed to guilt trip and ride Matt and Giovanni so hard at work on Saturday that they both were there to toe the line as well, but were still weren't smiling about it. I think they realized that showing rookie Mesa rider Drew, who was dying to go and planning on a ride, that they weren't total pussies. After all, what is there about the first race of the season, with your buddies, in epic conditions for the chance at some big prize money is fun?

The race started out really bad. Nate took off, me in second and the Duvel rider in third. The mud was 4" deep and either peanut butter or some crazy concrete mix. The lines all looked the same on the first lap so I just followed Nate and tried to put a gap on 3rd place. There was a totally unrideable section followed by 50 meters of semi rideable stuff and then a set of double barriers before a steep run up that hooked left and then right again, about 100 meters long, that was also totally unrideable. It hurt. 4 minutes into the race and I was already thinking I was going to go into the red zone for good and pull the plug, but seeing the gap I had on 3rd and a HUGE gap on the rest of the field inspired me to push on.

We started lapping guys on the third lap. I was suffering really badly on the run up but Nate was dangling 10-15 seconds in front of me so I kept motivated with him in sight. 3rd place was now 30+ seconds back (thanks to Jeff from Team Mack for the encouragement and time splits) and a large portion of the field was wallowing in the mud. About 4 laps in (out of 7) Nate was only about 50 meters around each corner. I think he was toying with me and when I started to close the door he opened up a huge gap on the next lap, close to 40 seconds. As the race went on I had the rideable parts of the course dialed and I think everyone else was hurting just as bad on the run up so I was really just trying to stay moving and resist taking a rest in the mud.

I must have been doing ok because with a couple to go I had a huge margin on 3rd and started to close in on Nate. On the last lap I was getting really close, maybe 10 seconds from him and tried to give it just a little more. I'm sure he knew he had the win locked and was slowing down but for me it was a matter of saying that Nate Rice only beat me by this much so I pushed. I hit the last barriers as he crossed the line about 100 meters in front of me, I'd guess it was about 10-15 seconds but I'm sure one of you wicked smahties will do the math to prove me wrong... I was pleased to say the least.

Mesa took a 2cd (me), 5th (C-Money), 9th (MJ), and 12th (Giovanni Fondolini) out of the 29 starters. Drew the rook ripped his bike apart on the 2cd lap. We celebrated by finding the biggest hole in the wall dive bar on the ride home and sucking down some cheap beer. The place smelled really bad but the jukebox was awesome. C-Money and I were very dissapointed that we didn't get any frites either.

Today I am sore, my shoulder and forearm are bruised from carrying my bike so much and I have some bruises that are probably from the 4-5 trees I bounced off of. Also awesome.

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