OK, now that I have had a little time to reconcile with myself over my disappointing race result at the Kansas State Championships, I must say I'm seeing some positives from it. I had set out to win this race. I can only think of a few races that I have wanted to win as much as I did with this one, and I have batted .500 so far. I used every trick I know to arrive at the start line in the best fitness possible, but evidently I missed something.
I lined up with 19 of the best racers Kansas has to offer, I have only been back in the racing scene for two years now, and at the ripe old age of 39 (racing age 40) I have had my doubts on what I could realistically accomplish, yet I lined up on Sunday with the desire to outrace any and everybody on that line. I didn't care if you were 19 or 59, I was going to race you with everything I had to offer!
So we line up, and I didn't get the position at the start I wanted, but it was OK. I knew in the end, it wasn't going to be a big deal. Back in the old days I would put a guy in the trees in the first bottleneck if that is what it took to get the hole shot, but I'm a little more civil these days, so when I hit the trail head in 5th I didn't sweat it too much. I followed teammates C. Hoppe and J Douglas into the trail, and knowing how strong they are, I knew I was in good shape. I tried not to panic too much not having the lead position, but traditionally that is my style...take the front and go till I blow, crash, or win! I think I would have panicked had I not been cramping a little in my belly from my pre-race nutrition, I knew the belly cramps would subside pretty quickly, so I just took it a little easy knowing that I was saving my matches for the ladder part of the race.
I saw Hoppe get away but JDoug was setting a pace that was just about perfect for me, he obviously didn't want me sitting on his wheel and eventually picked it up enough that I thought I better let him go and hope that I could keep up a strong consistent pace.
Lyle had predicted 28 minute laps for the experts, so when I came through the first lap in 25:03, and just starting to feel good, I was pretty confident! On the second lap my stomach felt better so I started moving up, I surprisingly caught Hoppe and shortly after that I reeled in JDoug. Jason had a little bobble on some of the treacherous slick rocks, and I managed to luck out with a clean pass to get around him. I know how fierce of a contender he is, so I plugged my big ring and went with the classic pedal mashing style that I have used in the past to get every bit of speed I could. Outta sight, outta mind! I'm now sitting in second place and only 31 seconds behind Damian. After getting around my secret nemesis, JDoug, I'm now feeling like superman! I keep mashing the big ring, because I had been catching a glimpse of Damian, from time to time. But..... then it happens! Towards the end of the third lap my left thigh starts cramping! Shit, I'm thinking! I quickly start soft pedaling with my left, using my right to push and pull through the strokes. Then, my right begins to cramp! Now I know it is probably due to the heat and that I'm suffering from lack of hydration. For the next 3-5 minutes I had to slow to a crawl, this was the longest few minutes of my life! I start to think I may not even finish the race! I manage to get to the end of the lap and grab some drinks, I keep digging it out and the cramps subside a little. I now have a little hope that I can hang on till the finish, but I'm realizing that the win is not gonna happen. With about a mile or two till the finish, I'm passed by Brenden Jenks. He was looking strong, but I stayed with him as long as I could, a few times I thought I could pass him but he slowly pulled away. I finish 3rd in my group and 4th overall. I lost the win by 2 minutes and second by 27 seconds! In the podium pick that I stole from Chris, I'm not very happy. But, now that I have had a little time to think, I know that I'm lucky to be finishing 3rd with such a strong group of racers; after all, less than a year ago I was racing as a cat. 2. When I upgraded to Cat 1, I thought my days of seeing the podium were done. Just a few months ago I was getting beat by double digits, and now I'm only getting beat by a couple of minutes. So, with that in mind, I'm gonna take a recovering week and enjoy my favorite holiday of the year. Then it's go time!