First off...let me say that the best strategy - well it's not really a strategy at all - is to not take a week completely off the bike and eat and drink everything in sight. Bad idea. Since this race wasn't my A race I was ok with this setup but as a competitor it still bothered me somewhat. My plane landed Saturday night after a week of lounging and getting fat in the Florida Keys and with absolutely no preparation I headed to the race Sunday morning. No hydration + getting 4 hours of restless sleep + no day before openers + stressing out as I had no food for the race = things could have gone better. Sometimes the best races happen when the prep isn't spot on, and sometimes it reminds you exactly why the wheels completely fell off.
So the race goes off and I find myself in the lead group of 5 and with Roger Foco getting a flat it soon goes down to 4, and then Dan Sturm loses a bottle and drops back so now it's down to Brian Shernce, James Harmon, and myself. So we all chat a bit and decide to work together to keep the gap opening and fight it out later. Each of us were taking turns where we were stronger and it worked well. If one of us bobbled, we waited, regrouped, and kept on it. That was great as I hit the ground hard twice as I was in the lead. So this strategy worked well for the first 5 laps until I started the dreaded yo-yo in the back. The heat, lack of prep, and the pace popped me off the back of the lead group. Brian and James would have to battle it out. It was great riding with those guys as it was great pacing, motivation, and company out there.
So after lap 5 I went into limp mode. I was still putting down power and riding ok but I knew I was on the downswing. My body just had enough. For not riding the week before my hands hurt, my feet hurt, my back hurt, oh and on lap 3 I got stung between the eyes and that added to the day's fun. I could just tell I was not on my game today. It was only a matter of time until I fell off the pace. I was kinda hoping the weather would take out the other two but that's not how it played out. My lines were sloppy and I felt like I hadn't been on a mountain bike in a month, nevermind a week. My focus went to holding a decent(although not fast at that point) pace so that no one could creep up from behind. I figured at this point I had put in enough work so that the gap was big enough and I wouldn't have to worry too badly. It didn't help when shortly into lap 7 my tire started getting soft and I knew I'd have to stop. I aired it up once with my co2 but it went flat again shortly after. So a tube would have to go in. I already was feeling sluggish and now this would slow me down even more. Especially since I aired it up too high and it was really rough on the back but it was a calculated as I didn't want to risk any more flats
So I rolled in at 6:41 completing 8 laps and 80 miles and pretty satisfied with a 3rd place finish. I actually went home and did a recovery ride so that with the morning warmup and recovery I would have 100 miles on the day. I realize I am sick in the head... I really did pretty well given the circumstances and with how I felt later in the race. All in all not a bad day really. I'll just have to relax and recoup and get back on my game for the next one. Next up is the Bulldog Rump and the Wilderness 101 which I want to destroy.