Another sweet weekend of 10+ hrs in the car. That makes two in a row. This time I had my little buddy Emilie for company though which made it go by much faster. People kept telling me how great this series was and how fast the guys are and since it was an AMBC race I figured I'd see how I could do.
In this series they line up all the Pro/Semi Pros together and then have all the Experts start 1 minute behind them and score everyone off the same starting time at the end. I think there were about 15 P/SM's and maybe 30 Experts. I wasn't expecting such a huge start and was lined up in the second row with no chance for a hole shot.
I went into the woods in about 10th until we hit the first 180* turn into a wall of a climb and half of the guys got off there bikes. I sprinted up the climb and settled into about 5th place. It was a really challenging course with plenty of climbing and no real recovery- you were either climbing or cutting tight single-track. I passed a couple riders and tried to settle into a pace and keep the front group in sight for the first lap.
By the second lap I had settled into a little bit of a pace and caught another rider and sat on his wheel for for the next lap. Not too much else really changed other than me tricking myself into thinking that I would start to catch people as the race went on as I usually do.
Coming through the start finish n the start of the 4th lap I made the mistake of not grabbing a bottle because I didn't want to get gapped off his wheel. I didn't have much jungle juice left and it turned out to be a mistake. We stayed together for the first half of the lap and I attacked him on a short section of pavement before going back into the single-track. I kept trying to drop him and got a couple gaps but he was able to close them. Towards the end of the lap I started to go backwards and felt like I was going to cramp.
Coming through on the last lap I went to grab a bottle with him still in sight but I dropped it and didn't go back for it. I crammed a bunch of calories in hoping to at least maintain whatever position I was in but started to go backwards and got passed by a couple more riders.
I really thought that I had given up a bunch of time on the last couple laps but looking at the results I'm pretty happy. I ended up 3rd in my class and 13th overall, about 9 mins off the winner. The weekend before I was 15 mins off the pro's time that won so I'm guessing my top-end is getting a little bit stronger. Too bad they only paid the top 8 guys overall... This is a really great series and a totally different kind of racing than I have done so far. Racing in a bigger field all grouped together is the way to go. One more weekend of racing and then it's time to change gears and get ready for some 12 hr racing!