Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pontiac Lake XC - 1st Place

I look at Pontiac as “the” race of the year. Pontiac is a great race course that has a little bit of everything… great climbs, technical down hills and fast flats. It is also at a time of the year that people are peaked fitness wise and usually not yet suffering from burn out. The Sport 35-39 class has been fast this year, as usual, and all of the top players were present. Shawn Schaffert, Tony Bastuk, Mark Bourgeau and I lined the front row. When the whistle blew, it was a 4 wide, bar to bar drag race for the first 100ft or so and I have to admit that I was a little nervous, as I didn’t want to start this race with a wreck! It was going to be a long race and I wasn’t going to win it in the first ¼ mile, so I eased up and let Mark and Tony go. I think Shawn had the same thought as he eased up and jumped on my wheel. Before the hump into the main trail I noticed that Tony faded a little so I surged around him to jump on Mark’s wheel. We had one close call right at the start as there was a guy that was late for his start time that left a few seconds before us and the group caught him just before we entered the woods. I think Mark scared him, as he started veering off the trail and then jumped back in just as I was coming by. I was able to avoid him and stay upright with out losing too much time to Mark. I heard Tony compliment me on my recovery, but I was sure that it was just one of many close calls that would happen during the next 19+ miles. The group of 4 stayed together until 2 mile hill when Mark and I split a slower rider on the climb and gapped Tony and Shawn. I rode Marks wheel for a while knowing that I could go a little faster, but I liked the pace and thought that it would allow me to have more energy later in the race. Mark was starting to slow a little on the climbs at around mile 5, so I went around him and immediately tried to break his will!! Thinking I put a reasonable gap on him, I settled into a comfortable pace. On the last climb near the end of the first lap, I looked back and saw that he was only about 10 sec behind… needless to say his will was still intacted and I was a little worried at this point. Once on the flat, I tucked into an aero position and tried to gain some time. Knowing my strength was on the climbs and his was on the descents with his full suspension bike, I pushed the pace on every climb and tried to be smooth on the descents. With about a half a lap to go, I started seeing a guy behind me that I though was Mark. It ended up being a Sport Clyde that was crazy fast with a similar jersey, althought it motivated me to go faster for a few miles! Once over the last climb, I tucked down and hammered to the finish and took the win by 40s over Mark. My first lap was 43:47, which is my best lap ever at Pontiac and over 2 mins faster than my first lap last year. The second lap was 4 min faster than the second lap last year. The hard work is paying off and hopefully I can make similar gains next year to allow me to be competitive in the expert class. This race solidifies my 1st place standing in my class, so I will be entering my first expert race at Stony in a couple of weeks to see where I currently stand amongst the big boys!

I would like to thank Chris, Tony, Ron and all of the guys at Fraser Bike for their support, my wife and kids for allowing me the time to train and race, Robert for running such a great series and Cannondale for producing such an awesome bike!

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