I haven't raced the MTB since St. George (because I'm apparently a road weenie) and I was quickly reminded how much it can hurt. Bob did a cyclocross start and we were all seeing stars a couple of minutes in. I couldn't hold the fast pace and settled into 7th. I rode consistent laps from that point and slowly worked my way 5th going into the last of 4 laps. With my allergies and congestion, I was deep in the pain cave at this point and was just going to do enough to hold my position. However, as I came out of the woods I could see Bob and that he was fading a bit, so of course I had to keep going hard. As I caught him on the twisty single track climb I think he said something like "I think I'm going to cry". If I could have formed words at that point, I would have said "me too". As it was, I could only concentrate on keeping moving and not tipping over. I managed to stay ahead of Bob to finish 4th. Given how I've felt this week, I'll take it.
Brad and Tim were long gone and a guy I don't know in tan under armor rode away from me half way through the race. He was struggling in the single track tree sections, but was flying everywhere else. He's definitely got a big engine.
About half way through the last lap, I remember thinking next week at Soldier Hollow is half hour longer and harder. It wasn't a motivating thought. I'm sure Bob will extract his revenge on the SH climbs.
Tanner had another outstanding day to win his second Expert 19 - 29 in a row. He attacked on the first hill and was gone. However, the finish ended up a lot closer than he would have liked. He was getting time checks to what he thought was 2nd and had a comfortable, nearly 2 minute lead. Accordingly, Tanner didn't push it too much on the last lap in order to avoid a big mistake. Turns out, that guy wasn't in 2nd and the actual 2nd place was gaining fast. He caught up to Tanner just as Tanner entered the finishing chute and they sprinted it out. Fortunately, Tanner was able to stay in front.
The 19 - 29 field lined up.
The Kuhl train started things off.
However, Tanner was first up the opening climb.
The finish was way too close for comfort.
The old guys lined up. Good job to sleeveless Brad on the win.
Tim had reason to smile. He was really fast yesterday.
Carl and I were able to smile early on. We had our normal battle for the first half of the race. Kelly Glen was with us as well. Good times with good guys.
Late in the race, no smiles, just the pain face.
Just when you think you are going OK, you often get a reality check. Mine came just before the start of my last lap. Alex Grant lapped me and went by like I was standing still. Next came Bart, then Burke. They were all impressively fast.
On the team front, congratulations to Dave for winning the 35+ State Crit Championship then finishing 4th in the Pro 1/2.
Others on the team were experiencing actual pain, not just effort induced suffering. Greg Freebairn went down hard in the 35+ race and broke his collarbone, a very bad thing for a chiropractor. Heal fast, buddy. At the St. George Tri, Aaron Jordin was flying along at 30 approaching an intersection when a course Marshall stepped out to tell him to turn (the turn wasn't not clearly marked). AJ braked, hit a slick piece of road and launched over the bars. Fortunately, no bones were broken, but he donated a lot of skin from his hands and back.
When I talk with non-cyclists about my racing, they nearly always say something like "oh, mountain bike racing must be really dangerous". In reality, the road is way more dangerous. In many years of riding and racing, my only significant injuries have some on the road. More reason to stick to the dirt.