With a larger than usual pro field the 18 of us lined up and were ready for a fast paced start. The whistle went off and I tucked myself nicely in the back and figured I'd would fight for positions later on and see how the field settled in. It was a VERY warm day and I know the heat would take it's toll. I was in probably 15th or so into the singletrack and just staying on the wheel in front of me. I felt good but not great. So towards the end of the 1st lap a rider passed me and I felt nothing left in the legs. This was odd.
I had a large training week leading into this and knew I wouldn't feel 100%, but not like this. The only saving grace was that the rider that just passed me - I saw walking up the climb in front of me. So I knew I had the chance to close the gap and get back on him. Hoping that he would pull me up to the riders ahead. So through the field at the end I closed the gap and stayed close to his wheel for the entire second lap.
The third lap I faded a bit but then pulled back up to the rider I was sitting on earlier. I could see he was fading and I was waiting for my time to pounce. On one little downhill there is a quick quirky little turn and he blew straight into the woods. I think he was putting in a big effort to get away from me and forgot where he was on the course. I dropped the hammer and never saw him again. It was going to take a good 10 seconds or better for him to recover and get back on course. I finished lap 3 on the gas figuring that he may come back but he never did. With the little gas I had left I rode the 4th lap smooth but not that hard. I just was hoping I would not see anyone coming up from behind - and I never did.
I put a full effort in to finish strong and crossed the line in 2:30. I was happy with that as my goal was to finish around then. 12th of 18 was fine for me. The entire category had some seriously stout riders and it was good to be out there competing with them. I'm hoping the next time I see these riders my prep will be a little better, and a better result with come from it. All in all a good day and one that should surely help me do well in the Wilderness 101. That's my season goal that is quickly approaching in a week or so. I'm just hoping the heat ceases in time to rock that course. We shall see!