If you think that only racing 1/2 of the race would mean a short report, you're wrong as usual. Maybe 1/2 as long.
I was worried about this race. I've been feeling the legs going stale after a long season and didn't want to get smoked by Team Armshaver. My next goal is to beat EP straight up. The more times I race him, the better my chances, but showing up at teh end of a long season when he is nice and rested isn't my idea of fun. I kept having to convince myself to race and almost pulled the plug after all that rain on Thursday, but when I heard Bobs report I figured I'd suck it up, take my licks and see where the form was at.
The race started as races do when EP is in attendance. Really f'ing fast. So fast that sometimes it actually takes some serious recovery just to get the legs to turn over because they are so loaded up...
That's how things started as EP and RP set off with me in tow and a group of 20 other riders chasing us down. RP pulled some kung fu over the bars shit and I was forced to ride off into the woods and watch EP open it up. For some reason it through me way off my game and RP took off without me and bridged up to his bro with gazelle like quickness. I was hitting trees with the back of my shoulders and de-railing it into the woods around the turns. Bob wasn't too far behind me before the climbing section, but when I looked over my shoulder at the top of the gravel road he was a good distance back.
The Thompson Twins opened up a 30 second or so gap on me halfway through the second lap and I was starting to think negative thoughts. I wanted to quit. But I convinced myself that finishing 3rd to two of the fastest dudes in the Midwest was worth fighting it out for and put my head down.
Chris came started to close on me but I was able to maintain a gap on the downhill and then open it up more on the climb. When I came through the start finish to see EP on the side yelling at me, I hate to admit that it was some serious motivation and the shit started to click. I was in 2cd behind RP and the legs were coming around. I focused and started to talk to myself as I sliced and diced the descent like a late night night Japanese knife infomercial. I was coming around and wasn't looking over my shoulder. Somehow I tricked myself into believing that I could catch RP and focused on plating the meal with hot sauce instead of letting the shit simmer on the back burner and get soft. Put the hot shit in my mouth and feel the fire! Chris was out of sight on the 180* sections where I did I have a chance to look.
I was feeling it and riding well. Right before the climb I jumped the log and remember two wheel sliding through the turn at 45* and the tire catching at the last possible second and popping out of the turn with speed, I must have leaned too far and caught one of the many sharp rocks. Exactly 3.5 laps into a 7 lap race, with the legs coming around, the scent of the rabbit pushing me on, and a decent gap on 3rd my race was over... a 1 cm gash in the sidewall.
I would never have caught Ryan, who was on fire, but was pretty confident that I would have been able to ride it out for a super respectable finish in a stacked field. It sucked. I knew it was going to be a short race and didn't bring a tube because 5 minutes in a tight race means suffering for no $$$ and it's too late in the season for me to suffer. I've suffered enough.
One more race before a pre-CX break, some serious fishing, CX training and my MTB season finale at Land Between the Lakes in the end of October and the fat lady is warming up backstage. I'm already thinking about focusing my efforts on making all the DINO series races instead of doing a couple big long weekend events all over the place.
Thanks to Bob and DRJ for putting on a great race and Jeremie for the rad photos. I love racing my bike. This season has made me really happy and am glad to have shared so many stories about pain trains, that one left hander that you could totally rail and kitties with all of you. Really. I love racing my bike.