I know it's been said that sometimes it's better to be smart than strong. That may have been the case today. It was a rough week leading into today's race since I will be leaving to go visit my brother in Colorado tomorrow. I had to get a lot of things done and I wanted to do some things that didn't necessarily give me the absolutely perfect setup for this race but what can you do...life happens.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back today shouldn't have gone so well. Friday morning I went climbing and got really sun-burnt on my back, which was only trumped by falling off a climb and turning my ankle. Wonderful. Whatever I ignored that and it was sore but I dealt with it. Then yesterday I find a nasty gash in my rear tire so I set it up tubeless and start to do the Stan's dance...and again...and again. It seemed to be set so I was good. One less worry on a course where I have been traditionally kicked in the nuts by tire issues. Then yesterday while marking the course in a pretty solid downpour I wasn't watching the tread below and rolled my other ankle pretty hard. Wonderful. Both ankles were sore and I have a race the next day. Again...ignored it and went on. Getting home later that night the wheel was having trouble sealing - so I played with it more and about 11 pm I was satisfied with all I've done. Sleep then up at 5 to get ready to put on the race. All morning I was running around doing errands and helping out with score keeping which isn't exactly the best race prep. Around 12 pm with my race at 1 I finally got relieved(Thanks to my cousin Mike as he was a great help!!!) and went to the car to get ready. I had to seat my rear tire bead as while I was score keeping my tire went flat. So I had to tube it up and check it all out before the race even started. It seemed to be good so I just got my 20 minute warm up - so not long enough and had to be happy with that. Ok time to line up. FINALLY...
I went out in 3rd position or so. I wanted to see what the legs had as I knew it was a fast course and not many big climbs. Climbing has been my strength so I needed to play it smart. We were in a FAST train for most of the first lap and I just didn't want to do too much work so I let people though and got on their wheel. I was back and forth with Sean Cavanaugh and John Arias and we all kinda traded the lead and drafting a bit. Everyone kept steady and fast. We had a nice group of 4 or 5 leading the 30-39 field.
2nd lap my teammate Keith jumped to the front to control the pace and John and Sean and myself were right there. At the one really tight singletrack section Keith was second behind John I was on his wheel. He said to go ahead and I jumped ahead to try and gap up to John. By the end of the st I was on his wheel and it seemed to be just us 2 but evidently Keith, and Brian Shernce were right there as Keith dropped back and Brian filled his spot. Into lap two we kept it hot and John and I were constantly trading the lead and drafting. I still refused to do a lot of work and gladly let him come by and grab his wheel. During lap 2 I realized I really didn't have a lot of "snap" with my 18 hour training week in VT. It definitely put me at a bit of a disadvantage but I was riding smart.
Into lap 3 it was just John and I again although the riders behind were VERRRRRY close. On one of the first downhills John took a bad line and got shot into the woods. I asked if he was ok and he was fine and I actually was a little relieved. I started to ease back for a minute until I realized how close the hungry pack was behind me. So I pushed hard again and half way through the last lap John was back on me. He was CRUSHING the flats but I had the climbing advantage. So I tried to stay smart and set a decent pace into the final climbs. At the top of the last roller before the 3 final climbs I made my move and passed him on the left. Up the first one John was right there. Up #2 he was right there. On #3 I put all I had into the climb and had to see what gap stuck. It seemed to be about 20 feet and I stood and hit the remaining false flats HARD as I was trying to extend the gap. I hit the fast downhill and the flat to the road crossing hoping I had a big enough gap and I just buried myself. I hit the right turn in the field to see John just crossing the road and I knew I had it. I rolled up the final climb for win #2 of the season! It felt soooo good.
Especially knowing that I wasn't the sharpest today. It was probably the most intelligent and tactical race I've done thus far. I'm very satisfied with the win and there are MANY things I could have done better and I'll take it. Finishing time was 1:45:27 which was my goal to run 1:45. That should put me in the lead for the H2H series and make things very nice as we are half way to the end. Up next is a nice 3 weeks of non-racing and a well deserved 3 days off. It was hard, hot, and a lot of fun once it was all over.