Well, the race is called Spring Mountain, but it's a half mile down the road from the Spring Mountain ski area, which is just one hill with a T bar. The race venue has maybe 50' of elevation change per lap. The course is on a large amount of land, but is laid out in a fashion which I call "nothing special". There are absolutely no interesting features, just a bunch of flat squares and circles. The closest thing to a fun obstacle was a volleyball court. You ride through it twice.
This year, we started on gravel and after a 30m sprint, we made a hard right. A square around a couple of soccer fields put is into a set of barriers and a hard right back on to the gravel start finish area, at the end of which we would make a hard left and on to the rest of the course. This prologue caused for a lot of dumb riding and high stress. After almost getting taped on multiple occasions, I was sitting somewhere between 15 and 20, but the lead group hadn't broken off yet. Pass, slow, turn, pass, slow, turn, rinse, repeat. Going into lap two I can see the lead five riders as I sit in seventh. Sixth is sitting in no mans land about 30m off the group, and I'm about 20m off his wheel.
After what felt like an eternity of chasing sixth, I had almost bridged and a guy comes FLYING past me and bridges the gap to the front with ease. OHHH thats what it looks like when you ride a bike? This inspired me to burn a match and I got on his wheel. The six of us worked together very well to complete drop the field. It was strange, you don't see six guys working together on the front of a cross race very often. Nothing interesting happened other than making bigger and bigger gaps on seventh until the last lap. I made a move through the bell and got caught in the sand. Another guy made a move, then another. We are half way through the lap and just trying to measure how the others are feeling. Coming through the sand the second time, there were a couple of bobbles, but everybody got back on within 10 seconds.
After the second time through the sand, you make a couple of uninteresting turns and head back into that prologue loop I talked so lovingly about. The first leg is into a headwind, and this is where the attack came. We popped one guy off of the back. Up the second leg, which was a hard packed crushed gravel path and the five of us are trying to attack each other. I was moving between second and fifth. Coming up on the barriers, I was in fifth. There were lapped riders at the barriers and they definitely caused some stress in the group. Two guys got around clean, the rest of us got caught behind. I got caught the worst, because I wasn't around them as they were remounting. Around the last turn and into the loose gravel start/finish and I had to take fifth. I couldn't bridge the gap in the short sprint that was caused by the traffic, but I was happy. Thats a part of racing, I can't complain about it. They didn't try to get in our way, it just happens.
If you have talked to me off the course, I've probably joked with you about me starting a blog called 'How Not to Podium'. I always finish in sight of the podium, but not on a step. I finished fourth at Parma after a mechanical - the podium was three deep. Basically, I am the king of making a really dumb mistake and costing myself a podium. I guess I was just relieved to finally step on and get that podium I've been trying to get, but we forgot the camera at home. Maybe thats the key?
I felt really good today. The Movember stache is wicked gross, and I'm loving it. I'm pretty sure that the crust on my lip and the silly band my nephew gave me are making me faster. Jen seemed really excited about the concept that having the facial hair of a pre-teen is making me faster. But I mean, seriously, check this thing out!