Anyway, I went into this race feeling good even though I felt pretty fatigued after the moderate 2 hr. ride the day before. Mentally I was ready to race and knew this course favored my style of riding.
As one would expect the road ascent thinned the field nicely and put me in 7th after a half mile. I have to keep count otherwise I'll never know if I'm making up ground when my pace kicks in and I start to pass those who can start quicker than I can. By the top of the climb I had worked back up to fourth position and was feeling pretty good about the fact that I could see Jay and Reed, (this isn't very common as they usually disappear within about 10 minutes of the start). Traffic on the course and my downhilling helped me to keep contact with the leaders as we started out Serenity. There were some riders in between us, but I was hoping they'd keep up their pace so I didn't drop back to far. About halfway up the climb on the ski run a rider ahead had problems and the line of 6 of us backed up. Reed told me later the stop and go spiked his heart rate and he had to hold back a bit. So I got by him and was now in 3rd. Close enough that I was determined not to lose Jay and Rich. They kept a steady pace and I was able to close the gap even more on the downhill. As we started the 3rd lap an Expert female who felt she could go faster kept asking to pass, so I let her go on the pavement before the final switchbacks but as we started the climb we were back on her as her pace slowed. I encouraged her not to lose the two guys in front of her as they were my objective and she did a good job holding pace and eventually requested she let her by, so we were all together 1,2,3 but now holding her wheel until she finally let us all go knowing that her pace had dropped off enough that she was holding us back.
I did everything I could but as we approached the upper pavement for the last time I didn't have enough left to match the pace of the leaders. I hit the pavement 30 yards back of Rich and Jay was at least 20 yards ahead of him. On the steep climb I forced myself to hammer and get up it quick and within 5 feet of the top my left calf cramped. Knowing Reed was likely not far behind I kept spinning but at a slower pace. I watched my prey disappear up the next hill. By the top Reed had caught me and asked me how far back we were. I told him we were in 3rd and they were just ahead and I encouraged him to go catch them, he left and I tried to work out the kink and my frustration that I was going to drop the spot I had worked so hard for. On the dirt downhill I rested and started a quick cadence onto the flat to the final downhill. I let it all go and eventually was back on Reed's wheel by the pavement. Then to my amazement he slowed. We entered the last switchbacks and something wasn't right, but his pace was off and I knew he had to know I was there. I took turn inside of him and went around with a couple of quick pedal strokes. I was back in 3rd within site of the finish line. I finished 39 seconds behind Jay, 23 behind Rich and Reed was right behind me.
Overall a great day of racing. I didn't win, but I felt like I was racing and actually being competitive the whole day. I felt good afterwards but felt bad for Reed who would have held the spot had his chain not bounced off on the last downhill, it was the sort of mild mechanical that ever racer dreads, especially when so close to finishing.
Next week, trail building on Jurrasic Park trail (Aspen Grove). So some riding, but mostly raking rocks off a great trail behind Timp.