Monday, June 11, 2007
I have to say that Firestone was incredible. Considering the torturous races I’ve had there for the last 2 years, having not only a good race but a GREAT one was far beyond my expectations.
The sweltering heat that greeted me when I arrived at the venue on Saturday didn’t make me very optimistic, though. Neither did the musical-chairs-like switching of the course length. 2 Laps? 1 ¾? 1 ½? Vineyard loop? Team Lame Bear again proved its near-worthlessness at putting on a smooth race weekend.
Waiting till later and leisurely pre-riding in the cool evening put me in a great night-before race mood, though. A mid-course phone call to Greg and directions from Matt was a huge help as well. Then I kicked back and ate dinner outdoors under the stars with James and Rod, and then we and Roger, Vanessa & Chris turned in for the night.
Race morning saw me up and running around trying to find out how many laps I was ACTUALLY supposed to race, but to no avail. The registration tent directed me to the start line, the start line was busy starting the Beginners and Sports, and when I finally found someone they told me to go back to the registration tent. Brilliant. None of the other racers were aware or seemed too concerned with my issue, and unfortunately it bit the Semi-Pros in the ass. Team Lame Bear didn’t have anyone up at the fork in the trail for the ¾ lap, and they went sailing by and had to come back and repass people they had already overtaken. Ouch. Luckily we were after them and it had been sorted out by the time we got there.
Anyway, the new course was great. The start thru the vineyard, although dusty, gave a nice warm-up before we hit that first nasty climb. The usually gnarly foot-deep creek run was bone dry and pitifully easy. I don’t know if it really was, or if I just felt great, but the normally bumpy cow trail course didn’t beat up on me like it usually does. They also carved some superfun new singletrack into the hillside. Well, as suprising to me as it was to the rest of the Backbone crew, I was able to speed around the course like a goat on amphetamines. 3 or 4 of us in my category kept fighting back and forth and passing and repassing each other on the ups and downs. I was finally able to put screws on those guys, though, and set my sites on The Bear Valley Bikes jersey I could see ahead of me who I knew was in my class. I inched slowly closer to him over the second half of the second lap. I finally caught up to him in the trees on the last leg of the course, but that’s when he started turning up the heat. I don’t know if he knew I was back there or not, but he was certainly making it tough. I lost a couple bike lengths on him and struggled to close the gap. I finally did, though, and was right on his rear tire as we rolled into the gravel gully near the finish. He hesitated halfway up the other side and I decided to make my move. I cranked up around him on his right, but I as I slowed down to dive into the last left-hand corner I half expected him to repass me on my right. As I righted myself I sprinted with everything I had left and came across ahead of him. SWEET. I took him by .47 seconds to come in 7th out of 21. What a rush.
I have to give props to my team and everyone who cheered me on for the motivation, it really helped.