Domination! Yes, Finally. It only took a smaller field of 12 riders, Reed on Vacation in Hawaii (aww too bad) and Jay having a mechanical (finally someone other than me), and then I can WIN. Hurray! It was actually a good race for me, so I can't discount that I felt good, but in reality results could have easily been quite different. I'll enjoy it while I can. All I know is I have a Blue Ribbon this year.
Here's how it went down. At lineup we got reshuffled again and were behind most of the Sport Men divisons. I was waiting further up and when my group finally got near the line I noticed that there were many more riders that I originally thought, most groups are small at this race for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't deter the 40 somethings from coming out for a nice day of racing. Oh no, a handful less than normal, but still a good group. I did notice Reed's absence and Jay informed me that he was basking in the tropical sun in the islands (sweet, one less adversary to watch ride off the front).
With the short road to singletrack I figured a sprint was going to be critical here. The only thing that makes this possible for me is that the Sprint is not at 10 degree incline but much more moderate. I got off the line first and hammered up the hill determined not to get caught in traffic on the technical singletrack. As I approached the hard turn I looked back to see a bit of a gap to the field which allowed me to let off and relax a minute as we moved into the trees. I bobbled once on some technical rocks, but recovered quickly and got into a rythmn. I knew Jay would be right behind me, but being on the front allowed me to control the pace. Half way of the Bill Bass Highway he came around me and picked up the pace a bit. I tried to hold a tolerable gap but I needed to ride my race. I kept him in sight but wasn't ready to close the gap yet.
Into the second lap I was still close enough through the start/finish to see Jay and knew I'd have to work hard on the single track to get closer. Still in contact, 30-40 yards off, at the top of the climb I turned on the downhill to try to close the gap a bit more before the 3rd lap. Near the lift turns I saw Jay off the bike working on it. I thought "flat" and came through hoping I'd get a bit of a gap before he was going again. Apparently the netting on the ground here got caught in his rear cassette and tangled up. It took a bit to clear the mess and that made the difference. I went as hard as I dared on the loose, dusty, dangerous downhill and pushed throught he base area to start the 3rd lap.
Sometimes you kinda want to know who's coming up behind you. I didn't! I refused to look back just in case Jay was coming up and my chances of actually getting home first would dematerialize. Apparently the gap was big enough and I came around the final lap in a steady pace and really didn't have to push too hard or stress about catching someone.
A good race for me, but not a great race as I didn't have to battle the speedy competitiors (sans mechanicals). I don't know that I'll be fast enough this year, but one little win sure is a great morale boost.
Jackson Hole is this coming Saturday and it's one of my favorite courses. It might be a small field again, but I know Jay and Reed will be there, so it will be challenging.