Conditions were perfect.
Our man CC won the C race by a 1/2 a wheel length. We all were rocking Delta Bravo deluxe edition Mowhawks and looking pro as hell. Russ, MJ and Corey placed up there in the B race and my legs were on fire from my new embrocation. Fire. Pain. Fire. Conditions really were perfect.
This race started as I thought CX races would, real fast. Other than my first race at Spanish Lake (when I went out as fast as I could, rode away from the field, then blew up hard) I have felt that the starts were slower than I would have expected. My 39x12 for the slightly uphill, muddy start was a too stiff and I was bogged down and didn't get the jump I usually do. I made the push and moved up on the first little nasty downhill and started to put it down. When Nate came by my on the outside he was really moving and riding super smooth. I tried to stay with him but wasn't able to hang for long. I looked over my shoulder and had a pretty decent gap on Josh and Harre and was pretty stoked. I think I held the gap for two or three laps.
The difference between the way Josh and Nate start is really interesting to me. I've never seen either of them race a big race but both times I've raced (been in the same race) as Josh he has started in the back and you don't really see him for the first 15 minutes or so and then he comes by and blows your doors off. Actually, it's less door blowing and more of a grind from 4th gear to 5th gear at low RPM's, you know, when it takes a little while to get them back up before you really start to accelerate. Nate starts like an XC racer; all out off the line, get into the woods first, open up a gap, find a rhythm, back it off just a little, and then sit on the lead and force other to chase and make mistakes. I tricked myself into thinking that maybe Josh wasn't as good in the mud and I would be able to hold him off, then I made the mistake and hit a pothole on the back stretch of pavement, 28 psi in my carbon rims and thought I cracked both of them.
When Josh came by me it was as if I was going backwards. After keeping a 30 second gap on him for a few laps he opened up a gap on me twice that size in the field and just kept going. I knew I wasn't going that slow since I was able to keep a 30-40 second gap on Harre and some Team Mack guy for most of the race. I started to get a little nervous that I had punctured my rear tire because it was feeling really weird on the pavement and rubbing my brakes like crazy. I knew if I stopped I would have lost my lead on Harre and figured that I had cracked my wheel and it was out of true so I kept going. With 3 to go it was worse but Harre had dropped the Mack guy and was closing in on me.
Ironically both he and Josh came up on me at the same time, right at the bell. I jumped on his wheel for the last lap and Josh was nice enough not to demoralize me by lapping me, Harre and I were the only ones not to get lapped. I heard Ricos voice in my head telling me to settle down and be patient. I was thinking about the course and knew with my big meat 50 tooth ring and the way I was going through the first few turns out of the back stretch of pavement I had a good shot at jumping him. I think he must have been feeling it or playing it safe because the whole last lap was more like a match sprint. I just sat on his wheel and followed his lines.
When we hit the pavement I kicked my front derailleur into the big ring and put it down. I opened up a decent gap only to be slowed up by a lapped rider through one of the turns and had to push hard again. I never really got as big a margin as I thought was safe, but had enough to hold on for 3rd. For me this was a victory of the race within the race.
Turns out that my tire had rolled 3/4 the way around. I can't believe it didn't come off. Guess 28 psi is a little low. I also have learned that there is a such thing as insulated long sleeve skin suits from Josh. I never would have guessed that you could look pro as fuck and be warm. Mind boggling.