I was a little wary of what to expect at the first big east coast event. I ditched the Cascade Classic and Granogue for the chance to race somewhere new. Its been a little while. It was a big race too. The 13 hours cruise down I-81 felt like the longest one ever, though I've made the drive dozens of times. I never had to dodge full size sofa beds falling off of trailers before though...I cleared it by mere inches.
The forecast for the weekend was grim. The rain gods had me thinking that it might hold out, but the next morning it was pouring. Not raining. Pouring. Fortunately, most of the trails in the southern Appalachians are resistant to water and hold up well and we were even luckier to have our race time slotted perfectly within the best two hour window of the day. The rains stopped and the sun was beating down on us for the start, only to open up again immediatley following the finish.
The racing action was superb. Though shortened a bit, the course suited me well. With the middle section removed, it was a true mountain bike course with a climb/descend profile. On the opening climb I found myself recovering from a poor start and by the top of the course I had passed most of the field, and made my way into the top 5. Swapping back and forth with Ryan Woodall, we pushed a hard pace, trying to real in the lead group. The second time down the descent, a lap rider got between the two of us and held me up just enough to give Ryan a small advantage. By the bottom, the gap was about 20 seconds. I mashed the 3rd lap but wasn't able to pull him back and the gap stayed the same. 6th. Darn, so close. I can't complain though, I'm more than happy with it.
The legs felt awesome. I was hoping last week wasn't just a fluke, and its not feeling like one. It makes me feel really good. It would be nice to not get second for the third year in a row at French Creek this weekend.
Brakes were smoked by the end