My race strategy was pretty simple. Try to not kill it off the line and ride consistently smooth through the rough stuff and see what time I could make up in there. I took off and sat comfortably in 5th of 11 through all of sitting bear and the white trail up to the lake. Just after the lake I was trying to manage killing all those nasty puddles and finding an line(if it existed)and I see John A sneaking up behind and I let him pass to use him as motivation to get back to the lead 4 ahead. This was good and bad. John had a good pace going but a couple of sections held him back and that held me back. Anyway through the S/F line I was 10 seconds back and I figured I'd make it up on the cross hike-a-bike into Little Bear. I did just that and used a lot of effort to hit the runup hard and remounted ahead of him. I stayed on it through Sitting Bear and felt like I rode it a little more solidly. John was still close behind so on the climb up to and through white I attacked. I dropped down by the lake and saw no sight of him the rest of the lap.
Into sitting bear on the 3rd lap I felt like I couldn't find the groove. Actually I never had the groove all day, it just was really bad on the 3rd lap. It felt more like I went to shift to a higher gear and I blew up my clutch. I really didn't feel like I was warmed up at all or could really get my heart rate up. All of the puddles seemed like a black hole to me. I misjudged everyone and they gave me something unexpected every time. I was getting really frustrated. At the end of sitting bear I could see Brian Kelly sneaking up and then I looked back and Matt Miller was through him and coming for me. Great. So Matt beat me to the fire road and into white. Now I wanted to stay on his wheel but I couldn't. I made too many mistakes. So as I drifted back on white Brian passed me. I knew I was fading so at this point I just kept on and tried to stop the bleeding. I rode from there on slipping all over and totally off my game.
Anticipating what the bike would do never happened from that point on. It was totally erratic. I think I hit every underwater obstacle that was out there. But into red somehow Matt was still in sight. So I said to myself that I'll close the gap a little and then on the last climb after the plank bridge I'll attack him and go for the pass. I never made it that far. In my attempt to close the gap after the red trails merged I took some lines in those nasty puddles that literally threw me off the trail. I hit one and launched right into the woods. I got back up to speed and the next one launched me left into the woods. Each time narrowly avoiding death by pine tree. It was ridiculous. In one of the puddles I had to put my feet down while still stradling the bike and my saddle slammed into my tail bone. It's over a week later and still REALLY sore. Probably bruised the hell out of it. I just wanted to keep it upright from there till the end so I kicked it back a notch since there was no one around me. I got up that final climb after the long plank bridge and looked back to see if I was clear and I see John A. right behind me with that "look"....crap. As soon as I saw him I put every ounce of juice I had left into blasting that downhill and making sure he couldn't pass me going into the finish. If he was getting past me, he would have to work hard to do it.
So I ended up in 7th of 11 starters and 2nd in the state. BL told me that it was awesome watching John and I sprint for 2nd place in the state and I had absolutely no clue that's what we were racing for. It was just that competitive edge that wanted to keep him behind me at all cost :-). I was a little disappointed since I think I could have had 5th. Matt was definitely in sight(got me by 7 secs dammit!) and if I did a couple things better I think I could have had Brian behind me. But that's the good 'ol "IF" game. So even though I didn't race that well it was fun to be out there riding circles in the slop. I'm ready for MTB season to end. Hello CX.