It was a perfect race day. Cool in the morning but warmed up to the mid 70's later in the day under full sun. Wow...this was much welcomed after the cold and long winter in Northern Jersey. This race is tough since everyone goes at once and there is a good showing of duo guys amongst the solos. So it's hard to figure out who you are actually racing against. As it were we showed up for the prerace meeting at what was thought to be the starting line - and it wasn't. So we had to all move to the actual starting line which put me in like the 4th row. I wasn't happy with that so I knew I'd have to put in a good effort to get around the traffic and into a better spot for the singletrack.
I used my gas to get through a lot but I still hit the singletrack in 20-25th spot. I put in a good hard first lap but traffic, a few crashes in front of me, and throwing my chain into my wheel twice didn't help. I had to stop and wrestle it out of the wheel both times, regain my composure and catch back on, remember not to use my biggest cog, and try to get back to where I was. I rode super steady the first 3 laps and then knew I was running low on juice so I had to pull it back a bit.
As the laps went on I was feeling the power decrease but my spirits were lifted by the guys I was riding with. I was pulling a few trains of people here and there and I asked if they wanted to come through they said no. They were just trying to hold my wheel and I was fine with that. I just rode steady and hard and picked the climbs and fun parts to hit hard and just tried to relax for the rest.
I finished super solid and happy with how I rode on such a fun but tough course. I was even more excited to see that I finished 3rd. I've been close to the podium the past few tries at this race and now I finally got there. It was a great feeling especially knowing all that I'd been through with the break in on the way down.