I was prepared for a bit of a slog but it turned out this years course had a whole heap of awesome. Turning was essential, though there were still a couple places to layout watts (though not enough for a pure power rider). And I finally had some tubular tires to keep me upright.
Staging was assigned by random lot, and I picked a number that placed me about 20 rows behind the last person. Riding in the BRKZ was not advantageous for the start, but we were informed by the commissar that the 80% rule would not be enforced. The people rejoiced.
Starting in the back gave me an interesting perspective, as I saw the front of the race come by two turns ahead. And then I passed David Wilcox, who's REAR WHEEL was missing. After at least two or three people crashed in front of me, I managed to sneak by and pick up more positions.
I spent the first half clawing my way to the front for a bit, and by the middle actually saw myself the closest I've ever been to a UCI point behind John Peterson and at one point Sean Milne. Milne obviously smoked the both of us as he surged forward. I switched bikes since my primary bike did not seem to be shifting right, and I began to lose some steam in the middle of the race as I saw the orange BikeBarn kit fade into the distance.
Don't look at me!
Michael Jenks and I spent a decent amount of time going back and forth after that, which ended with him slipping out on an off camber and allowing me to pass. I rode alone for a while, recovered a bit, you know, because that is necessary in a cross race.
At this point Colin Reuter showed up on my wheel and told me we just needed to finish ahead of Wilcox, who was coming back strong. Colin ninja'ed me in the rad bowl turn by railing the berm -- maybe I should have also raced my MTB more this year -- and while I stayed on his wheel in the flat road section I began to lose some steam in the turns and saw him open a gap. Confident I could at least finish where I was, I applied more force to the pedals with 3 or 2 to go in the hopes that I could at least avoid having to fight for my finishing position. Wilcox came screaming by at this point, shaming myself and my family, and then disappeared again. I saw Jenks beginning to close in again, but I kept it up and finished safely in 16th place.
After some deal searching at the Patagonia outlet in Freeport, we rolled over to our favorite place again. By this time, as tradition dictates, the toilets were completely filled with terrible things and required a firm constitution to enter.
The Super8 breakfast did not fill me up completely, and for some reason I did not want to take advantage of the wonderful food available. I found myself drinking bulk hammer gel out of the container 10 minutes before the race to fight a severe bonk, oops!
The course had changed enough to keep me on my toes. I managed to draw a descent third or forth row start, but pretty much blew it anyways, finding myself pretty solidly in the back again. Intent to roll over the awesome rock wall, I found myself in a logjam.
A bit deflated whilst schlepping my bicycle. Photo by Don and Dana McEwen
I caught up to Mike and we rode for a while, but intent to bury my teammate and ride alone I put in the effort to open the gap. Sadly, Colin was solidly ahead of me the entire race chasing the Wilichoski beast, though I had managed to get close to him at one point. Michael Jenks was ahead of me again, and we battled for position, with him eventually going ahead after I bobbled on some turns. I began to see Pascal Bussières and Mike closing in on me, which meant I had start racing bikes again.
I established a bit of a lead, and caught Jenks. He seemed to be fading a bit, and I'm pretty sure I got a bit of a gap on the road section that I was able to hold onto. On the last lap, I got a good inside line after the pit on Cory Collier who seemed to have let out the parachute a bit. I came in alone, again, in 17th.
SO THAT IS BIKE RACING. No flats this time, and I didn't even need a pit bike on day 2!