Woke up to the wonderful sound and as some were getting ready to race I pulled the covers over my head for a little longer. The typical prerace morning but with a slight change. I have found my new favourite breakfast. Banana pancakes rock and are easy enough to puke up if need be.
Was pretty certain that the weather would break and that my current tire choice would be the right one. Stuck with a set of pythons but just for that safety I tossed a set of mud's in the trunk just to pull the prepared card against Mother Nature hoping that she plays on the nice side. Did the typical morning socializing and cheering before heading for a warm up. Same old stuff.
Sitting the the start coral I started to get in a mood that I needed to be in and asked Death March Liz, who was doing my feed if I looked fat in this jersey. I was a little disappointed in the response. Countdown and we were off. I started the lap a little more conservative than I normally would. I did this at Hardwood and was happy with the feeling until I flatted. Thought I would try again as everyone hammered the climb. For a rare time I wasn't battling at the back at the top. I planned to just settle in for the first half of the lap and just let people make mistakes and take advantage of it. That took less time than I thought.
By mid first lap I'd went past 4-5 riders with no additional effort, the couple forced run sections were ride able as long as there was nobody in front of me, of course that didn't happen and running twisty treat and back up the punchy climb blasted my heart rate way up. Again running+me= stupid. I spent the next minute or two trying to get back to a normal beat. Lap 2 had me battling with Mark Brusso from the Lap Dogs. I knew his strengths and my weaknesses so knew I had to sit on him in the technical and push him a little to get flustered because out on the double track he would put some serious hurt on me. We stayed together for the lap swapping leads. This was the battle for 6th. Into the 3rd lap we were still only 10 feet apart. I was feeling good. Heading into the single track after the gully I had my first shifting problem. Coming up a steep climb my bike decided it wanted to go to a much easier gear than what my mind, body and spirit wanted to. The bike and myself argued as I tried to gently persuade it to stay in the middle ring but got stalled and forced to run the next couple rises. Mark gaped me, heart rate spiked, this opened the window to the HBCC rider who was tailing us.
Got through the rock garden still trying to recover a bit but he came blasting by on the wheel of a cadet that I'd passed earlier. Tucked in but couldn't hold the pace so opted to get him in the single track which did happen. Finished the lap with him still watching for Mark, started to recover and I could see the HBCC rider was fading and bobbling lots in the single track. Through the rock garden and field again on his wheel I planned on making my move after twisty treat. This was right when Andrew came through to lap us and I got the guy to go neutral for a second to let him by. Rolling again for maybe 200 feet and that's when things went to shit.
I heard a sound I didn't want to and my bike came to a stop. Started to run but the back wheel kept freezing. The chain jumped in between the spokes and the cassette. I attempted to do the redneck approach to bike repair and started to pull. I was in a crappy spot on the trail so started to run with the bike randomly smacking the back wheel off things while swearing and yanking at the chain. Shouldered the bike up the steep punchy climb and at the top stopped loosened the wheel and continued to yank at the chain. I finally gave, started riding but quickly realized that I hadn't lock the wheel again. See, running and my brain don't work well together. At this point I'd probably lost a good couple minutes and now the 9th place rider had caught and passed me. After the quick fix I rode like a pissed off teenager who stole his his ex-girlfriends new boyfriends car. That little break gave my legs enough rest to lay down power and pulled back 8th spot going into Glassfords, knowing that I would try and scare him on the decent if he tried to keep up. There was no chase and crossed the line in 8th. Could I have been battling for 6th, I think so, I think the legs were there for it, have to wait for the next one to find out.
Pretty happy with how my ride went, legs felt strong. This was the first short race where there were not crazy long miles done the day before, by crazy I mean it was only a 3 hour ride with an hour of tempo mixed in. My legs are aching a little from the running because yet again I think it's a stupid sport and should never ever be mixed in when riding a bike. My back is also a little mad at me for some reason, not sure if it's from rocking the hardtail which of course when forced to run was the right bike for it but may have added a little chatter that I was not used to. Fun day was followed up with a few beers and a few burgers. MMM food. Now it's back to my coffee.