Wow. I can't believe it's over. What an amazing season. My emotions today are mixed; I'm really happy with the closure of my 2008 dream season and very excited to get a month of rest and start planning for 2009, but on the same token my fitness is at an all time high and with good legs so it's tough to pull the plug. The thought of buying a $150 license for one race, lining up in the back of my first PRO CX field and inevitably getting lapped is enough to say "enough's, enough. Let your mullet down and party!"
A couple months ago I realized that my segue from MTB racing into CX season was far less then ideal. Between abbreviated training for the Burnin' 6 hour race, broken seat posts, broken saddles, the flu and the mega stress of finding a new place to live and moving in, I was having a hard time finding some confidence. Initially, my goals were to finish high in the overall points and win a "b squad" race. Although I didn't accomplish either of these I really can't complain. Once I focused my training solely on a good showing at Hermann, things started to happen. Slowly the speed and snap started to come back and the lap cards started turning over a little faster.
I had my shot at the my goal of a BIG W at Queeny but Dr. Mark was riding really well and I was taking chances early instead of riding smart, which ended up in massive muddy failures. Even though I finished second, I know I was riding strong and dropping guys I had been struggling to stay with a couple weeks before. I was as ready as I could be for the Little Big Show.
The Little Big Show.
First off, I want to congratulate my good friend and teammate, Matt James, on his season. Matt was hit by a car in September and lost some serious motivation but impressed me to no end with the way he focused and finished up his season strong. Not to mention winning his first State Championship and coming in second in the overall. Nice job buddy!
My goal was for a third place finish behind Nate and Josh. I didn't expect to see some heavy hitters from KC's names in the results from the day before but was confident and feeling pretty sexy, so I didn't sweat it too much. There were less than 20 of us on the line since the Cat III's were racing separately, so it was sure to be a fast, close race. I got a good jump and scored another hole shot but didn't keep pushing it as much as I usually do and settled onto the third wheel going through the field after the pavement behind Josh and Schmelz.
I crashed on the nasty off camber hill turn, went down locked in the pedals, banged my knee up pretty good, but still ma gaged to maintain my position. I was third up the stairs and feeling pretty good. I don't remember what lap Josh passed me on but when he slid by I was still feeling pretty good sitting in 4th place. Aside from some cramping issues on the stairs, which was causing me to have to run them one at a time, I was going pretty good and had a 20-30 second gap on the two KCCX chasers. I was using every inch of the course to my advantage and while railing the turns was ending up hitting the stakes quite a bit.
With 3 laps to go I blew it. I hit the top of the stairs, jumped on and pedaled on air. Instead of getting off to put my chain back on I tried to shift it back on and it jammed. I jumped off, struggled with it and watched as Mills and Winkler rode by. I got my new Michael Jackson limited edition white gloves all greasy too, which really sucked. I can't say I remember much about the next couple laps but Mills and I started going at each other which was pretty good racing. Somewhere along the way we dropped Winkler and then Mills opened up a little gap on me on the last lap.
Coming into the sandpits on the last lap I just buried it and was able to close it down. I came up behind him going into the sand pits and passed him on foot while he was struggling to ride it out. I had a nice clean remount and put my wheel into the wind with him chasing. For some reason I started cat and mousing instead of going balls kitty. Looking back, I should have just floored it balls kitty.
It wasn't long before he was back on my wheel and I started to think too much. I opted to open the door a little bit for him around the second to last 180 degree turn thinking that I could catch a tow to the last corner and juice him... In hindsight I don't know what I was thinking. I had been gaping him on most of the technical turns and gave up my strength to go head to head with him. I went wide, opened the door, looked over my shoulder, heard a couple down clicks and watched him gas it. I got my ass served up like a Dunkin' Donuts drive through after church on a Sunday morning at my own game. I throttled it to get back onto his wheel for the finishing straight, but wasn't able to come around him. Some sick racing. More pedaling and less thinking next time.
A fifth place finish isn't so bad. I had a good race and can't get too upset about things outside of my control. It was some sick racing. The bells on the stairs was plain sickness. I can't say that I ever raised my eyes to look, but it sounded like the stairs were lined on both sides with people ringing bells and yelling. Truly awesome.
I can look back after my second season of CX racing and feel really satisfied with how much I learned from this season and how well I am getting at getting my body into peak form. I am pleased. On another note, I can't say enough about how awesome I feel about the whole STL CX scene in general and am so happy to have shared it with so many great folks. I love this shit. Thanks to all my friends, teammates and competitors that made it such a memorable season.
Time to go to KC and party! Next year I'll be ready to race.