First off, what a sick race! Andy and Matt really put on a top notch event and it looks like some good things are to come with stiff competition all around.
I opted to do the marathon race to get the extra miles, not to mention that most of my training rides have been 3-4 hr mtb rides and I haven't even touched my top end training yet. I knew I was a little bit cooked going into this one, and after a long day of standing on my feet moving everything off the sales floor at Mesa for the remodel, my legs weren't exactly snappy during my openers Saturday after work. Nevertheless, I had tricked myself into being over confident about my current fitness level, something I always seem to do before the first race of the year, and was really excited to get it on.
We had a big class of 30 marathon riders but I had my eyes on D-Wayne, Stothman, Zach, Brown and Big Mitch. The start was as expected and I played my cards perfectly to find myself on the tail end of a small lead group with Jay pulling, D-Wayne next in me relaxing in 3rd. D-Wayne jumped right when I was thinking of going for the clear line down the sketch section so I caught a lift on his wheel and came around his smiling face. My rear ZTR Race wheel was flexing so much it felt like the skewer was loose which was a stark contrast to the stiff Roval wheels I have been training on and was throwing me off a bit.
The two of us hit the steep pitch and 3/4 the way up I was redlined. D-wayne was standing up dancing on the big meat and my legs were so jammed up with acid there was nothing I could do but watch him open up a gap. The gap grew fast. Somehow I was able to recover a little as I pushed uphill at close to 20mph when I was met by Brad Brown with Mitch Johnson giving a hell of a chase and eventually closing it down and joining us. This was as fast as any expert start. We hit the singletrack and I was able to open it up a little bit and settle into a decent pace. I came through after the first lap two minutes down from D-Wayne and wasn't expecting him to slow down.
Mitch caught up to me again on the new section and just as we were popping out onto the old trail my tire blew off the rim with some noise. Mitch came by me, followed shortly after by Brown. I was able to assess the damage and get going but lost about three minutes and had my work cut out for me. Then the funk set it. I was having a hard time staying focused and wanting to quit. I was watching my heart rate drop and not feeling like I could push. I wanted to quit.
Going into the 4th lap I caught up with Brown and passed him before hitting the pits and hearing that Mitch was only 40 seconds ahead, which was great news. I started climbing and saw Mitch struggling up the double track a ways and went to work. I latched onto his wheel and was able to recover a bit when I noticed Brown was clawing his way up to us. Man, there were some monster efforts by these two riders. I thanked Mitch for the tow and put in a decisive move to get away and stay away.
The next couple laps were smooth sailing, other then the bunches of traffic, and I realized that I was going to be coming in awfully close to the sub 3 hour mark and given the facts that it was raining, my legs were shot, I was sitting comfortably in 3rd and nowhere near first I let up and coasted in at a safe 3:01. I was ready for a PBR with Casey and the Maybs.
I was pleased with my effort and think that after a little rest I should be even better at Council, especially since it's a much more technical course and a little less pure fitness, which I ain't got yet. I was especially pleased that the promoters chose a 100% payout and 2/30 earned me a buck-twenty, boys gotta eat!