Wow. I can't remember feeling so good about so many things all at once. Yesterday was the icing on the cake. I had so many excuses lined up going into the race I was destined for failure; I hadn't raced enough, Casey and I had partied way to much the week before, I hadn't been sleeping well, my buddy Eddie came in town from CO on Sat and we were up late drinking beer the night before the race, you name it, I had an excuse. What I was ignoring was that every time I have got on my bike in the last six weeks it's been for a reason and the days I wasn't shredding repeats up the back of Lone Wolf or doing 20 min LT intervals over on the flats I was resting and trying to recover as best as possible.
You know it's going to be a fast race lining up next to Cam, Chris and Schottler (who I will now refer to as the mayor of Rhetts after watching him floss the first section with Jedi skills) and being chased by some seriously fast old dudes like Matthews, Froese, TK and even Mr. CX, Josh Johnson. I was telling Casey the whole ride there that I was a little worried about disappointing myself and was just hoping to round out the top five.
The only problem I have been having since switching to Eggbeater 2Ti's compared to the heavyweight Times ATACs has been clipping in from a start. I slipped a bit when they said go and lost a step but still managed to get in behind Schottler who took the hole shot. I almost went around him on the grassy turn but didn't want to start things off by hitting the deck and settled in on his wheel which proved to be a good move for two reasons; I let him show me some sick lines and it turned out that as a front runner he burnt himself out a little too fast. Cam wasn't far behind me at the top of the first climb and we had a decent gap on everyone else.
By the second climb off of the gravel Schottler, Cam and I were all together and Schottler started to bog down so Cam jumped him and gapped me a little before I had room to pass. I was crushing the climbs while seated in the 42 and thought it was only going to be a matter of time before the legs said no and Cam was out of sight, but somehow I worked my way back up to his wheel and was noticing he was standing up on the climbs looking for power and I was able to sit on his wheel as we went through the start finish and jump him for the start of lap 2.
Then things started to tick. I was really feeling good on the climbs and riding really efficiently on everything else. The S-Works hardtail was cutting through the turns and accelerating out of them like a F1 car. Things were good. Occasionally I would see a glimpse of Cam and Chris coming up behind me but figured that by the second lap I had 30 seconds or more and wasn't slowing down. I clearedmy first two laps in somewhere around 43 minutes and on the longer course in wet conditions, knew I was going good. I grabbed another bottle, downed a gel and continued to crush it.
My third lap felt like it was my fastest but it's tough to say. I don't know when I have ever been able to push such a big gear up the climbs and while seated. I started to hit some traffic on the 3rd lap which really sucked. I was trying to be polite by saying "race leader coming through, I'd appreciate it if you would let me pass" but was finding that many of the riders, who were way out of contention in their classes, would just keep going until they made a mistake forcing me off my bike to get around them. It would be great if promoters would remind lap riders to yield to race leaders.
My fourth lap was more of the same. My legs were still feeling really fresh on the climbs and I was riding well. At one point I hit a tree with my bar end so hard it twisted my bars a little and when I went to get in the shower last night found a big red mark on my shoulder while I was flexing in the mirror, but aside from that I rode a pretty much flawless race. I started to look at my watch and realize it was coming down to the wire and one side of me wanted to squeeze 5 laps out again, the other was praying I could throw my hand up and have a beer. No such luck. I rolled through at 1:28:59 and they told me to keep racing. I hate this format and not having any idea how far behind Cam and Chris were, found myself looking over my shoulder a lot. On most courses this format basically lends itself to an hour and a half of racing and the rest is uncertainty. I'm not a fan at all.
My last lap I found that I had to shift down to the 29 on the 2cd climb and the legs were getting a little heavy but I still had some kick. It really sucks to have no idea if you are being chased or just out there on a parade lap, but I tried to stay focused on finishing strong as most every other Cat I race I will do will be 1:45 plus.
I came across the line and threw my arms up and damn it felt good! Being the only racer to squeeze out 5 laps two years in a row is very satisfying to me. Always a solid time hanging out with so many friends after the race and Seagal had the PBRs flowing graciously as per the usual. So good.
My stomach was a little jacked up due my low tolerance of race dayfoods and Maybs was with us so Casey and I decided to head straight home and feast on some ribs Eddie had got us from his hometown, 17th Street BBQ in O'Fallon IL that were sick! We sat outside and ate and started putting away some serious cocktails which was the perfect way to end a perfect day. By 10pm we we're good and crunk again and bumping some Marvin Gaye. What a beautiful night.
Next weekend my folks are coming to visit and then next Tues is it... Phish at the FOX. They have been playing with some face melting fire and should be good and tuned up to rip it at the sickest venue they have played at in over 15 years. All aboard, fasten your hemp belts, the trains leaving for space monkey mountain.
"Crazy like a rocket when you're coming through my radio"