Hot damn, what a week. The Phish show at the Fox was exactly what I thought it would be and the boys from VT didn't disappoint me one bit. Casey and I had a total blast and seeing Phish at a venue like the Fox was pretty much a dream come true. Nowadays you can download the live show within an hour after the concert which is great, but when you are talking about a band that plays a different set list every night, improvs their asses off and on top of that, hasn't played in 5 years there is going to be some sloppiness. I get really sick of hearing the critics, who are listening to Phish's greatest shows from their computers all day long, and then critiquing each and every note Trey flubs the morning after. For me, a Phish show is the SHOW not just the music and this was a great one. Musically, definitely not even close to the best I have seen, but the energy in that place was unreal and the boys were clearly having fun. While the show lacked a little continuity, there were some serious moments.
Casey and I had a little too much fun at the show and by Friday were still not feeling totally recovered from it and I was starting to get really stressed about traveling 6 hrs on Sat night to get down to the AMBC race in Little Rock. I felt 100% better when I called the hotel and cancelled the reservation and started to get excited about St Joe and the possibility that when in Pirtle County, there may be Team Armshavers present. I called Cam in KC and offered him a place to stay but he was still washed out after his teams stellar perform ace at Big Bear and the Pirtle boys were recovering from too much fun in the sun of Meheecoh so I figured it was just going to be another "local" race.
We got down to the race nice and early and just sat in the AC and listened to some music and relaxed a bit before the race. Secretly I was really hoping to pull off two wins in a row but really was concerned about how sucky I was feeling all week so my anxiety was way up. I was getting ready to go pre-ride when I saw the White Toothed Wonder boy roll up in the silver Element and turned to Case to tell her how fast this race just got.
I have two goals I'm working on right now. One is to place top five in five AMBC races and upgrade to PRO and the other is to beat Eric Pirtle. I was a little pissed at myself for not going to Arkansas because I wasn't pursuing one of my goals so needless to say I was jazzed to have a shot at another one as I set out to pre-ride.
I rode in for 4 miles and realized one thing was clearly evident; this course was designed for a kid who grew up riding hair scrambles in Missouri and then learned to mountain bike on those same trails. I was trying not to let it get too me too much when I ran into EP riding a full sus bike and telling me how awesome the course was.
EP slipped a pedal and I robbed him of the HOLESHOT! I was feeling fluid and fast and my Adam Craig-esque straight arm technique was powering me through the rough stuff just fine. I knew EP was going to come around me but I wanted to hold him off as long as possible. Me, EP and Schottler quickly opened up a gap on the rest of the group when I started to bog down and EP jumped me. Surprisingly, I was able to stay within 10 seconds of him for quite some time until we hit a couple of the bigger downhills and he was out of sight. I felt cooked and was thinking that there was no way I was going to make it through two hours of this while Schottler sat on my wheel. When we crested the big climb in the middle of the course and hit the flow section I started to feel more in my element again and started to turn the screws a little and hoped to gap Jon. I punched it up a climb and then was drilling it through one of the fast sections when I came up on a marathon rider and lost the gap I had gained. Towards the end of lap one I had more of a gap on him and quickly opened it up when we hit the pavement and later learned that he had flatted.
I grabbed two bottles and set out on lap two 1:06 behind EP and was really motivated to chase. I knew that I was on the defensive and would have to take some chances which was a bad idea as the heat was really getting to me. Not too far into the lap I hit something that wasn't moving, flipped over the bars, Charley horsed my leg and bent my bar end down so much I couldn't use it which really sucked as there was quite a bit of power climbing. I recovered from that slowly and was doing ok until one of the big g-outs which had two different lines. I chose the wrong one and ended up in the woods next to my bike with my chain stuck between the crank chain pin and crank arm. Again, I recovered and started to remind myself that the heat could cause cramps, the brutal course could cause flats and a two hour race is a long one.
Going into lap 3 I was told the gap had opened to three minutes and I was feeling beat up and beat. I pushed on but was really struggling to stay on the trail. I thought I was going backwards, but looking at my lap times am surprised to see that my 2cd and 3rd laps were pretty close. I crashed a couple more times, just dumb stuff like sliding out around turns, and was a little worried that I had stopped sweating but didn't feel too bad and knew that once I crested the big climb I just had to ride it in. I came up on a rider laying on the ground at mile 7.5 and stopped to ask if he needed help and he told me to send someone back for him so I pushed on.
Just under 6.5 minutes behind EP the dream crusher. One weekend two goals crushed. My boy Zach called me up to talk about the race later in the day though and after talking to him and Casey about it I started feeling a little better given some of the circumstances and am still pleased with my result. That was not the place for me to plan on going toe to toe with the guy that taught me to race and apparently Bob Marley was right, "All them drugs gonna make you slow." Ok, so not really, but all them beers and second hand ganj don't help much.
A couple days of recovery and then I plan on squeezing in a couple solid workouts before backing it off and going into what I hope to be my best fitness of the season in Indiana, followed by the USAC MO State Champs and maybe even double up and go race Sac River the next day for some points which shouldn't be too big a deal if I'm rested up from a short hour race week. That's been the plan, hopefully I got the heat when I need to bring it!
Nice job EP, you made us all look silly.