A beautiful weekend for bike riding it was. The course was pre-rode Saturday in the AM. If you are familiar with Santos, we rode out from the parking lot, down some trails and headed over to Magic Mountain. Then we did John Brown and Ant Hill and meandered back to the parking lot. The course was just over 5 miles. A short quick course. I did the first pre-ride lap and noticed that there were no tiring climbs and the technical section was tight but not overbearing. I finished the first lap and hadn't hit the water at all, it was a little chilly. I did lap two almost at race pace and blew through the course and felt really strong in all the different aspects of the trail. I felt like this course played to my strengths. I only took a little water during lap 2. This got me to thinkin! Do I need to carry a 5 lb. camelback strapped to my back! Me thinks not . If I were to have a mechanical or flat tire, I would be out of the race. The laps were running approx. 30 minutes so any problems would set you back 10 minutes and take you all the way to the back if not last place. I decided to run the race bareback. Liberated, freed from the constraints of the binding straps and the extra weight of the camel back shifting your center of gravity. I was going to run this race all out. It was short so I felt that fatigue would not be a factor and if I could get a quick hole shot and be in the front group I didn't think that the other racers that I have been close to in the finishes, I didn't think that they would have enough to overtake me. I had a plan. Just had to wait for Sunday.
Sunday morning and we take too much time feasting at the Cracker Barrel. The Original Ellsrider insists on the Cracker Barrel for breakfasts while on the highway. We get done eating and only have two hours to travel to santos. Fortunately it only takes 1.15 hours and we have 45 minutes to register and set up for the race. The Original Ellsrider decides he doesn't want to race because he isn't feeling the competitive juices flowing. He had been hinting that he wasn'tgoing to race but I didn't think he would wuss out. It was me and the Idster representin this week. The start went off just as I thought. Everyone else was lined up way to the left and I was all the way to the right with some newbies. The start was in the grass and headed up a slight incline. I figured on a easy gear to spin real fast at the gun, and then a quick shift once I was rollin'. The other racers thought being to the left gave them a shorter and more direct line to the single track which was up 50 yards and to the right. They thought anyone on the right was going to get pinched. I thought that if I could beat them to the turn, then they be starin' at my ass as I head down the single track. And thats how it went down. They were starin' at my ass as I was #3 at the turn. The top dog was #1 and followed by another top 10 rider and then me. I never looked back but I figured there was going to be major jams and and being up front I was getting a big break. Thetop dog was yelling back to the rider in front of me, asking who was with him. He wanted to know who was on his wheel as we went through the first part of course. He hardly ever stopped talking, encouraging us to keep on his wheel, telling us that he was going to make a move and to keep up when he did. He held back for about .5 mile and then did a burst for the next mile or so. I couldn't hold his wheel any longer because I thought that I would bonk if I kept the pace any longer. I pulled up and three riders went by dropping me to #6. I rode and kept them in my sight and finally lost them as I couldn't get passed slower riders as we went through the technical sections. I finished lap 1 and I was told by Original Ellsrider and his wifey that I was in #6 place. I did a gu shot and struggled with a drink from a gatorade bottle, spilling most of the drink as I tried to pedal and drink at the same time. I threw the bottle at the feet of spectators as I went through the start gate area. Somebody yelled at me that I was a litterbug. I told him that I would get it on lap 2. I zipped through the start gate and headed into lap 2. I felt good. The gu was kicking in and I could have used a little more water but it wasn't really bothering me. I picked up speed going through lap 2 and passed alot of slower riders from the younger class that started 2 minutes before me. Then I caught the wheel of the #5 rider. I rode behind him until the first technical section and he was getting tired and struggling with the turns, rocks and maintaining the speed. He pulled to the right and I blew past him on the left. He gave me encouraging words as I went by. I raced through the next technical section as I didn't have anyone in front of me to hold me back. I was juiced up from the gu and felt great. As I came out of the technical section I caught the wheel of the #4 rider. I rode behind him for a little while and then I told him I was on him like white on rice. I wanted to pass him but couldn't get around. We came on some slower riders and he blew past them with a strong move on the right, off the singletrack and in the weeds. I couldn't follow and was stuck behind the slower riders. It took me 1/2 mile to pass these guys and when I did it was the last 1/2 mile to the finish. I finished really strong, pasing slower riders from earlier starts but could not catch anyone else in my class. This was the first race I finished with a faster second lap time than my first lap . The Original Ellsrider told me that I finished 5'th place. The results were posted , and sho'nuf I was #5. I took home a medal and a bag of swag.
In his class, the Idster took 5'th place also. He beat me by 40 seconds. Two races ago it was 6 minutes and 40 seconds, last race it was 3 minutes, now I have it down to 40 seconds. But this race was taylor made for me. Hopefully the last race I can do as well. I got some props from some of the other riders as they know it was a big leap-frog move for me to go from 10 -13 place to 5'th place. The # 4 rider told me that when I said I was on him like white on rice that this motivated him like nothing else. Maybe I shouldn't have been such a comedian. Overall, the plan worked. Going without the camelback felt great, and I think it really helped me in the tech sections.
One more at Reddick to wrap up the season.