This will be my last post of the year about racing, since I will be taking a much needed break from the bike for a bit. I have been looking forward to this race for the majority of the 'cross season. For one, it is in my hometown, and two, I missed it the last four years since I have been away at school. The thought of riding to and from the race to warm up and cool down has never crossed my mind until this race, and let me tell you, it was a great change of pace from the normal two hour car ride following a rushed breakfast where I try to shove all the food I can down my throat. I was not looking forward to the race for one major reason though. I had to work the night before. My body thought my day started at nine the night before, working until seven in the morning then racing at noon time. This is a lot like waking up in the morning working all day long (doing manual labor and not an office job) then having a race at midnight that night... Not too fun or motivating.
Regardless of the deranged sleep pattern or the lack of enthusiasm that I could muster, it was time to race. I also had a lot of family at the race which was a big help. Unfortunately I could not put on as good of a show as I wanted but their support of the whole Competitive Edge Team was great. I also want to thank my aunt once again for taking pictures of us. I wanted to finish the season with my best finish yet, but my legs did not get the memo that there was a race that day. They were flatter than a week old soda. The only benefit that I had was that I was able to pre ride the course the day before and earlier in the week. Before the whistle blew I had logged in a good dozen full laps, and a lot more time on some of the trickier sections.
The start of the race went fairly smooth for how tight the start was a couple hundred feet from the starting line. Mike and Sean both had fairly good starts, and I was going to have to make up some time to try and catch either one of their wheels. The only thing I could do is wave good bye to my teammates after the first lap. I passed quite a few people on the first lap and had a false sense of how great I was feeling. I started having thoughts like, "maybe I didn't need that much sleep" or "my job is easy and not that physical because I am in such great shape being the end of the season and all". Two laps in I ate my own words. My heart rate plummetted along with my position in the field.
At this point I was trying to not get dropped that fast. I was hoping to still have some confidence during the last half of the race if people did not pass me as though I were riding in the wrong direction. Finally I decided that enough was enough and caught back up to one guy and I put the hammer down. I would like to think that I passed him with authority, but it probably was nothing too special. I wanted to put a large enough gap in so that he would not re-attack me.
I was then caught by two more riders and decided to sit on their wheels and catch my breath for a minute or two. There was a short climb that I decided to attack both of them on, and I stood up and cranked as hard as my defiant legs would let me. I tried to keep a good pace and this attack was enough to keep them five to ten seconds behind me.
I was able to even catch the guy who was riding in front of them who was a good fifteen seconds up or so. I tried to attack him too and had a little luck. In the back part of the course there was an off camber corner that I was able to ride the day before but was unable to master during the race. I tried to ride it, and my back wheel slid out from underneath me and I landed on my back. My first thought as I was getting up was, "where is my aunt with her camera? she better be in some other section right now.". When I got back up and rolling I realized that I lost my little gap that I had gained a minute or two before.
I was attacked and was not able to respond. In the distance I saw Mike, and wondered what had happened. He is such a solid rider, and even on his worst day would not be hanging around me on a bad day on the track. I tried to catch him so I could try to rub it in latter but he saw me and would not let that happen. Mike and the guy who passed me after I crashed had a great battle going on, which I was able to watch from my five second deficit.
In the end I was able to hold on behind them and place 8th, which is not too bad considering my lack of rest. To be fair to Mike, he raced the elite 1/2/3 before the 3/4 race, and had flatted. Which in a cruel way was the perfect carrot dangling in front of me for motivation to finish off the race strong. Now it is time to take some well deserved time off the bike, and enjoy my knew recliner, and spend some time with the dog.