I was really interested to see how I would do in this race, coming off my bonkmeltdown at the Barn Burner a couple weeks ago. I put in some hard training miles since that race, hoping to salvage whatever I could from the season as it starts winding down -- and to see if I had any race left in my legs for 2013.
The SS class was about 10 deep and well stacked. Off we went and Mottram, Witkus, and Beal were off the front never to be seen again. Jason Rabidou was behind them and then Dave Richardson and then me. I was hoping to use Dave as a measuring stick as I'm usually competitive with him, but he beat me by quite a bit at the Barn Burner.
It's funny how you can tell how a race is going to go pretty early. I took a much shorter warmup then I did at the Barn Burner, and that seemed to help. I felt good from the whistle and was confident that my fitness would hold better than it did at the Burner. But I still dialed it back a touch in the first couple laps to make sure I had something left for the last two. Glad I did as I was toast by the end.
At the first steep/sandy hill Dave went up a bit and then dismounted and pulled aside, presumably to let others (me) try to ride the hill. I passed Dave and tried to ride the hill but failed, and hopped off the bike and looked back and I didn't think there was anybody close enough behind me that I shouldn't just run the hill. So I I felt a little odd bolting as I think Dave was being courteous, but it being a race and there being nobody close behind, I just kept going. I'm not sure if Dave was being overly courteous or had a mechanical or what (maybe I was just being a dick, though I don't think so). Anyway, I never saw Dave again, or after the race, so I'm not sure what really happened. Ironically, it was at that same hill last year that a racer muffed it and then stood in the middle and wouldn't let anyone else pass and actually said 'too bad'.
So on I went and I eventually caught and tailed Rabidou. We drafted each other, kept each other in sight and he and I rode together the rest of the race, trading the lead back and forth. Neither of us got more than 10 seconds up on the other. Man, it was fun. We were just locked in on each other's paces for 3.5 laps, missing that same new S-turn on all 4 laps, laughing at my awful CX skills, etc. We were having fun, but also still racing hard.
Jason's a cat3 CX racer so he owned the couple of dismounts and run-ups during the laps. He might've had a slightly easier gear than me too as he seemed to have more snap on the hills. My strength compared to him was in the techy singletrack, where I would slowly reel him back in - my slightly bigger gear may have helped there and on flats too.
I knew where I needed to attack him in lap 4 to beat him, but I just didn't have the power to do it and stay away, so I decided to stay put behind him hoping he'd make a mistake or gas. He did neither, and put a gap in me as we ran up the last get-off hill on lap 4. He quickly remounted and was gone. I did my usual hop-hop awkward remount and I knew that was that. Then Matt Myette and his sweet matching Zancanato kit and bike came out of nowhere to catch me and he said 'hi' all casual and pleasant-like as if he wanted to chat. I said 'hi - 4th is right in front of us - go get him!" and that lit a fire under him and off he bolted and caught Jason (sorry Jason lol) right before the finish. So Myette got 4th, Jason 5th, me 6th, all within a minute and only a couple minutes off the podium. I wonder if Myette left a little too much in the tank as he seemed a lot fresher than us at the 24 mile mark.
So I was extremely happy with my race - not just how fun it was, but also with my fitness. I'm not sure where my race fitness went after starting the season with three 2nd places, but it seems like it's coming back around. I think I just didn't do enough long/hard rides mid-season to keep my fitness up when I wasn't racing and most others were. This is my first full season in Cat1, so I have a lot more to learn about training. I feel like my trajectory is definitely back on the upslope for this season though. So looking forward to some more hard training and then hopefully feeling good at the last couple races.
Thanks for reading.