Pre-race: Fun singletrack in the morning. Good course, this is the reason god invented 44-tooth chainrings. Watched Conant dismantle the masters field. Tired, but a good tired -- not as keyed up as I could have been, which made for a more relaxing warmup. Brutal run-up, maybe did it one too many times.
Start: Dewey Dickey was so shattered from Conant's beating Saturday that he skipped the Masters race and lined up for the elite only. Shadd Smith is here. Nate Rice gets a call-up for his top 5 finish on Saturday. Decent start, no one biffs it in the chicane, we're flying, I take the high line at the bleachers and pass a few guys ...
Lap 1: Passing, getting passed. Jockeying for position. Feel good. My god the front guys are flying. Good thing it's a long course. Rough time on the run-up. Feel great on the long backside. Dewey comes past me just before the barn section, I follow him into the sand. He stalls at the exit, opens a gap. Crap! Lose 5 seconds getting started again. I have a gap to a group behind, am tagged onto a group.
Lap 2: Someone tells Dewey he's 27th. That means I'm 28th, in the group with the last money spots. Good start of the lap, smooth, fast climb. Lose a spot on the run-up, gain it back at the barriers. Still have a gap to the group behind, Lou and Jim are in there. Somehow I pull out the most perfect remount I've ever done in my life on the high-speed, downhill barriers. Hammer, hammer, hammer, into the barns, smooth, through the sand, good, out, around, nice turn on the feed trough, and BAM! All of a sudden, I'm down and rolling through the gravel. I get up, left elbow shredded, "Oh shoot!" I yell (I didn't swear!), the Lou/Jim group passes me. Re-rail the chain, lose a bunch of time.
Lap 3: Chase, chase, chase. Gravel in my right glove, have to do a Michael Jackson. Pull it off in a smooth section, ride around with it in my mouth for half a lap. Left elbow bleeding, right leg too. Thankfully no left-leg damage. Bike seems OK, bar tape ripped up. Losing time on the run-up, gaining it back on the flats. God, damn that run is sllllloooooowwwwww. Kim is at the barriers, don't biff it. Whew, another perfect remount. Lou's group starts to shred. There. Guy in black is coming back to me.
Lap 4: Not sure if I'm losing time or gaining it to Lou, definitely gaining on man in black. Almost cream a kid who jumps off the back of the bleachers right in front of me. Even slower on the run, elbow is bleeding pretty bad when I check it out as I climb. Ear-drum-popping noise on the top of the hill. Smooth descent, how did he run so much faster than me? Making up time on the flats. Stay smooth in the barriers.
Lap 5: He's getting closer, closer. Lose a bit of time on the uphill, but blast past him through the barriers. Now, GO! GO!GO!GO!GO! HAMMER! I blow through the gradual downhill, rail the berm, fly through the front-side, awesome cheers from Shannon, JPEs, Glen, around the bend, barriers, clip out, dismount, over, and WHAM! All of a sudden I'm head-first into the third barrier, slamming my left shin into the ground and not at all sure where I am for a moment. I get up, check my bike, and the guy in black passes me. (I had put a huge gap into him.) I get back on, try to pedal. Someone yells "You only lost one spot, man!" My left shin is swelling and can't put any power down. I'm dizzy and a little sick to my stomach. I pull over at the sand and let Meehan go through. I pull over after the trough and let two more guys go. I'm done, game over.
So Dewey ended up 14th, Jim was 24th, Lou 27th just out of the money. The guys I'm normally with rounded out the top 20 ... if I had stayed upright, I had a good shot. My legs felt good, I was riding strong (if not running all that fast), and I know I was on track to make up a few spots. Thankfully Kim was there to take care of me and re-pack the car; in addition to hitting my head and landing on my shin, I somehow jammed my right wrist pretty bad too. She is the best, no question!
It must be something in the air, by the way, so be careful ... David Sachs biffed it in the same barriers as me and pulled out, and I just heard that Pat McNally crashed this morning and broke his collarbone and gave himself a concussion. Ouch!
ONLY 18 DAYS TO NATZ!!