Finally. Got the W. I was starting to think that I might go all season without tasting the top of the podium, but now I worry no more. Saturday, Fayetteville, the Freak set up a great course (great because it didn't play to my weaknesses much) and was kind enough to schedule the SS and CX4 races back to back, leaving me just enough time to drive straight to Louisville for my gig. I was thinking Friday night that I might have overdone it a little bit with the heavy Tuesday night ride and the hard hill interval session on Wednesday, but that was not the case.
SS race was 5 guys. SS is a cool category because it's like the open class. The only thing we all have in common is one gear, otherwise, the guys you race against could be first timers or Masters Champions. At the start, I was immediately hanging on as Tanner and the guy that would ultimately win started pulling right away. It was a long race, 45 minutes (we ended up racing for over 50) so I was content to let them duke it out, hoping that one of them would break and I'd be able to pull that one back. After a lap and a half Tanner got dropped and Nate told me I was pulling him back so I put the head down and turned on the gas for a lap and a half or so until I realized that Tanner had recovered a little bit and was pulling away. With 4th place about 3 minutes back (couldn't even see him), 2nd riding away, and the CX4 race yet to come I set a strong pace in case the leaders had a mechanical, but basically resigned myself to 3rd. 7 laps and we were done, 3rd of 5.
Ten minutes after the finish of the SS race, the CX4's lined up. I'd vowed to not race off the front and blow up like I have been doing every race, so I sat in, about 5th position heading up and around the stadium. The downhill was tough for me as it was just a little faster than I could pedal, so I just sat in, biding my time. Nate was out front directing the pace and when the five of us went over the barriers, I got into the top three. By the end of the first time through the spiral Nate and I had a gap and I let him push the pace as I drafted through the Red Bull banner. Nate and I took turns pulling for the next lap and a half, extending our lead and trying to figure out who was stronger. On lap three, on the runup/step section, the Freak was yelling at me to "break the rubber band" and telling me to make a move, so I did. After we got on the bikes, there was a short flat grass section, then a tricky uphill turn into a short climb. Nate had been slow through that section so I poured it on, gaining 3 or 4 seconds. Through the spiral I got another couple seconds and by the time we'd gone around the stadium and through the various downhill sections and started the uphill climb, I had build a 5-10 second lead. I maintained that gap until about a half lap to go when I just poured it on coming back up the hill to make Nate think I had a ton of gas in the tank. I worked. First win of the season and a big slap on the back from the Freak.
It was the first time this season that I'd used any kind of tactics during a race. My pattern before had been to start hard, splinter the pack, then fade off the back and struggle for the podium. Saturday the plan was good, the training was good, the nutrition was right and the legs felt good. It all sort of came together. I packed the car, drove 4 hours to Louisville, played a two hour show, drove home, slept like a rock, then got up and ran 4 miles and went to LP Field where the Titans got whipped by Favre. Predictable but unfortunate none-the-less. Favre is really fun to watch, he's like a High School Kid. I know how he feels, it's a little like I feel on my bike. All in all, a good weekend.
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