It was an amazingly hot day today! At least the storms held off but they were threatening right at the start. It was good to see 4 of my teammates show up as well. During my pre-ride I had flashbacks to the last time I rode there which was in 2006 when the race was in the series. It was good stuff and a true mtb course. I forgot how tricky some of the sections could be. There were sections where I knew people were going to bite it and they did.
Here's how my race unfolded. I started in the front row and good thing since they put 19-39 all together. After bumping elbows off the start I was in 8th but I shortly picked my way through two before getting to the big climb of the day. I knew it was four laps and HOT so I had to be careful about moderating power. I went up the first climb on my teammate Steve's wheel and picked off a few, then one more, then another, and another, until I was sitting in first half way through lap 1. Then the course started throwing in the technical aspects and the short hills and I realized I had some pretty bad shifting issues. My housing wasn't releasing the cable and causing me to not have the three rings above granny in the back. Wonderful. So with this I had to run some of the stuff since it wouldn't stay in a gear and was getting really frustrated as one went by, and the next, and so on. I did the best to hold everyone off and I had to let 5 go through and start to figure out this situation. I don't know if I went too hard or the shifting issues had me messed up but I was in a fog and starting to forget how to ride a bike. I was in a bad way for a bit there.
I made myself snap out of it and pull it together. I found out I could use the upper range of the small ring for the steep climbs and then really shift the front rings on the faster stuff. With this method I found I could ride the whole course and get a better groove on, although not as efficiently as if everything was working right for sure. So the start of the 2nd lap I at least knew my strategy for the gearing and worked that the best I could. I worked my way back up to Steve as he had the blue/yellow guy on his heels so I latched on. I rested as they pulled me into the climb and then went around to attack the climb again...hopefully feeling better this time. It worked. I crested the top but didn't see either in my rear view. So I went from 6th to 4th now. I kept strong but the b/y guy gapped back up to me and latched on hard. I couldn't shake him but lap 3 was coming up and I knew I could get him on the climb. On the little pitch leading up to the climb he started to fade back and I went hard and tried to put a nice gap on him. It worked. I never saw him again. I passed one more on lap 3 and kept it going. Lap 3 was solid and good and lap 4 I hit the climb hard again and tried to open the gap and get the 2 guys in front of me. But I never saw anyone again. So I was content with 3rd place.
It was a tough field and a good group of riders for sure. I hung out for what seemed forever to check results, and find out what the overall results were like, and I was surprised to see myself in 2nd. Thinking back I saw the leader on the side of the trail with what looked like some bad cramps. So I was really fighting for 2nd. 1st place was just under 2 minutes ahead of me. That's promising since if I had no shifting issues I would have been up there with him and possibly challenging for the win. Either way I didn't really ride well enough to win. Hell after the 1st lap I was going to be happy to finish. It was a great race and a great venue. I had forgotten how much I miss that place. Christian did a great job and it's good to see that place in such good shape.