I was pretty blown out after the Yankee TT… maybe before it! The plan for the week in-between Yankee and Pontiac included lots of rest which was greatly needed. Although getting things going after rest days is always rough as your body shuts down and tightens up. Brad and I had a good ride on Thursday and then pre-rode Pontiac on Saturday. I put my normal SS gearing back on the Quiring which felt good and so did I… we may have actually had too much fun on Saturday!!
I surprised myself and actually had everything ready and packed in the car the night before, which is a rare occurrence for me. I was up and on the road in short order Sunday morning. I was worried the night before as I would have no excuse for the race as I know the course, I have put in the saddle time, I have the right gearing and I am rested. Bike racers are full of excuse on why they don’t perform, but I really had nothing to fall back on if I didn't do well. (I did however find that as thin as I am, I have 10-20 lbs on the other guys! Maybe I could play the fat card?! LOL!!) I grabbed my number and got everything ready and warmed up. I tried to warm-up with the team, but they were going faster than my legs wanted to go, which wasn't confidence inspiring. I just rolled on my own and was ready to go. Joe Seidl dominated the Yankee SS race which put a target on his back… even if he is on the same team. There was a good turnout for the race with about 7-8 guys on the line and all were more than accomplished SS MTB racers. They started us behind all the expert and elite men, which I figured would be an issue, but also a possible advantage as getting around people is an art. The art of passing and putting people between you and your competitors can be good… but you need to be at the front. So goal number one was to get towards the front and stay there. They also changed the start/finish layout for the race to bring everyone out into the spectator area more. One observation was that there was a tight right hand corner at the finish and if things came down to a sprint position would be everything.
|The final Sprint... Arianna caught me with a weird expression!|
Joe took off at the gun at a blistering pace with me in second trying to close the gap. I knew his plan was to make us all suffer on the climbs and he did a good job of it. I was running second wheel and he would gap me on the steeper climbs and I would reel him back in on the down hills and flats. We caught a lot of traffic on the first lap… not sure exactly how many, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25. It seemed like we were constantly passing. It made the lap harder than it needed to be at some points by forcing track stands on climbs, but easier in other areas due to a slower pace. Joe was relentless and at one point I let him go a bit and Patrick Russell went around me. I dug in a bit and stayed on Patrick’s wheel and eventually Joe let up and we regrouped. Joe led the first 3 miles or so of the second lap and then just let Patrick and I go. I was hoping he was just going to jump on our wheel and recover, but we never saw him again. I knew from last year that Patrick liked to be in front, so I let him stay there and I followed. The pace was hard, but manageable. He would put in some digs on the climbs and I would have to close the gap now and then on the flats. Pete Thompson, who was racing Expert 40-49, had a flat and then caught and passed us near the end of the lap. Patrick latched on to that train and we were moving pretty good. We were catching some guys at the last climb and Patrick pulled a slick move to put him between us at a less than opportune time for me and I had to make a risky move to get around him and latch back on before the final flat section. Patrick was still on Pete’s wheel, so I had to spin like made to catch up! We rolled into the start finish area together and I attacked just before the right hand turn, took the inside line and held on for the win. This was a great race as the competition was good and the trail is one of my favorites!!
Team KLM had a great SS showing with Todd Greene getting 3rd and Joe Seidl finishing in 4th!! Mad props to Brad Lako for a dominate performance in Expert 30-39 taking the win!!