First race of the year is out of the way. I must admit I was nervous about how this was going to go. With no intervals on the legs at this point in the program, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when things got amped up and the hills started coming. The good part was that I had been sleeping well and my legs felt pretty fresh. I got up early and drove over the day of with plenty of time to get ready and socialize a little. With 1500 people all trying to warm up at one time in the parking lot, I am surprised there weren’t any incidents… at least that I know of!
I lined up early to get a front row spot, as I knew that Sager Rd. was going to be a parking lot. I saw a few of the major players’ right there with me… Simon, Osgood, JMak, Messing and McKibbons. This was Simon’s kind of race, so I knew he was the guy to keep in my sights. The neutral roll out heading out the main park road was pretty mellow. We turned onto the main road and the pace amped up. I stayed towards the front on the pavement and all the way to Sager. I knew we were in trouble when we were catching wave two people almost a mile before Sager. As we rolled into Sager, it was hard to tell who was in what group. It was 4 wide with people riding really slow, walking or crashing. I picked the left line and someone immediately stopped in front of me. I jumped off the bike and started to run. I was forced off my bike once more before getting out of the sandy 2 track and on to the gravel road.
At this point, I had little to no frame of reference as to where I was in the group… so I just buried myself until I could find a group that I recognized. After almost losing it at the blind left a few miles up the road, I found my group. I could see my teammate Josh, as well as McKibbons, Messing and Osgood. I caught the group and recovered a bit. We hammered along until the wall and then the group thinned out a bit. Messing, Osgood, McKibbons and I were still together and would keep the pace high. After a while JMak showed up to the party and would join the group. At one point a couple guys got together right in front of me and went down, but I managed to avoid it, as did Messing! The rest of the race was a little bit of a blur, till the Sager/Shaw saga towards the end of the race. At this point, I don’t remember much about the people around me other than they were slow and riding odd looking bikes with racks and handle bars that seem to be at shoulder height?! I realized at this point that we had caught the 24 mile group. We were dodging puddle, people and sand pits till there was nothing but sand, at which time I dismounted and started running. I am NOT a runner, so I was expecting the other guys to just run on by me… but it didn’t happen. I walk for a few secs here and there, as I was certain that my calves were going to cramp. As we topped the hill on Shaw the only one by me was JMak. We both mounted and hammered down through the puddles and sand on the other side of the hill headed for the pavement all the way dodging odd looking bikes.
Once we made the turn onto the pavement I could see McKibbons with a group just up the road. I also knew that once I got over this climb it was mostly downhill to the finish. I put the hammer down and slowly closed the gap. Once we got over the top, I was assisted by some guys and closed the gap to McKibbons. Shortly after Messing and JMak join back on. Messing didn’t like the pace, so he went to the front and pulled us to the park entrance. There were a few moves, but all were covered quickly. In 2010, I went too early (At the end of the bridge)… so this year, I decided to wait till the end of the parking lot. I made my move and laid down everything I had left… I kept waiting for the finish line to show up but it didn’t come soon enough and as my legs started peddling squares and a few guys went by. I put in one last burst and managed to hold on for a middle pack finish. Next year, I will cover moves and wait till I can see the finish banner!
Finish time was 1:50:41 with an average speed of 19.5mph which was good for 6th place in my age group and tied for 31st overall in the 36 mile race. This was an improvement of almost 1mph avg and 4.5 mins over my finish in 2010 which didn’t have the second Sager/Shaw section. I will always remember this race as I got to ride/race with my friends for almost the whole race!!