First day of fall and it felt like it. Light rain, cool breeze and temps in the low 50's. Having done this race last year I knew what the race plan was. Make sure you're with the leaders coming out of the trolley trails!
It didn't happen. Turning onto 26 Mile I'm about a tenth mile back (WTF) and the chase to catch is going to be tough. Mt. Vernon, Washington, Winkler Mill and now Sheldon and still no help. Finally around Stony Creek I'm joined by 4-5 guys and we start working together. The group ahead, is maybe a quarter mile away by now and we ride well down Snell and Mt. Vernon and are able to bridge back to a tenth mile. Once we make the turn on 31 Mile that changes. A guy from O2 goes up the left and splits the group, I'm able to make the jump along with a guy from Haggerty? We ride together North on Dequindre, but the O2 rider is getting anxious and keeps surging hard to contact the group ahead. Shortly after 32 Mile the O2 rider puts in another surge and I can't hold-on. The 2 guys ride away and I'm alone again.
I make the right on 33 Mile and I still see the group ahead, so I dig deep and try too bridge. I manage to get about 100 yds away but can't reach. We make the turn on Fischer and the group starts pulling away. this is the closest I will get. I keep them in sight for the next 6-7 miles but at Parks and Dequindre they are long gone. The carrot is gone and mentally I start falling apart, the legs start to feel heavy and weak. I begin talking to myself and trying to regroup. I'm able to keep it together until Stony Creek but once I hit the climbs most of my power is gone. I'm struggling to keep the pedals turning and a group of 3 guys catch, then go by. I try too keep pace but get popped again on Mt. Sheldon. I entire survival mode until I reach Sheldon and head for the finish.
Making the turn on Sheldon I can see riders ahead and new motivation. I manage to catch and pass one rider and roll across the finish a very tired and dirty guy.
I didn't finish with the leaders but I had a great, very tough race. I never looked back, sat-up or thought about quitting. Only finishing and racing the best I could. Not being in the lead group(s) cost me a lot of energy but I was able to keep them in sight for a long time. I'm walking away with my head up and knowing I still have a lot of hard work to put in over the next 3-4 months. Let's see how the first CX races go this coming weekend at Kensington.
Thanks to Mike Franko. Thanks to all who donated their time and products. Thanks to all the racers.