man, oh man...things went perfect! i don't think i could have asked for a better weekend.
Saturday: not my normal routine for a race weekend...as I had to attend my youngest niece's bday party in Birmingham, AL on Sat morning...so the family decided to drive to her house on Friday night and be there for the morning events. things went fine except Charlie, my baby, didn't feel like sleeping much past about 2 in the morning...needless to say, no one got much sleep that night...no biggie, just called for extra large cups of coffee in the a.m. the party was great and the first half of the day flew by...Brad and I had planned it so that he could pick me up in Bham around noon and we could head over to GA for the race...we got to the trails about 5p local time, which is extremely late for us to get a pre ride in...normally we do this before lunch...the course was good...lots of open areas to use for whatever...passing, recovery, eating...several punchy climbs with 3 in the last few miles, and some nice flowing sections...and one very techy area with several little drops thru tight trees...tuff stuff! turned the pride in about an hr. I had pics but the camera didn't have memory card so...nothing to show...we got some grub and called it a night early!
Sunday...RACE DAY!!! since i was coming into this race with loose expectations and a full 10 days of training leading up to the weekend so i was hoping for a good finish but that's it...i warmed up like normal...found a little rd climb and some short sections of singletrack to ride...tooled around for about 25 min to get the legs going...i was feeling really good and fresh...at the start, i noticed the 200's were in full effect...we counted 28 dudes i think...biggest field to date for me as a cat1! i knew the start was important...about 100yrd off the start, it turned 90 degrees to the right and up thru the transition area...about 4ft wide...then into the trails...i did what i wanted to do and that was to get in the top 7...i was 5th...the start was fast...about 3 guys broke away with about a 10 sec gap on the chase group(i was here) through the 1st section of trails then on to the first climb...i tried to close the gap on the hill and did some but not enough...another guy came around me and took up the chase. i grabbed his wheel and off we went...we dropped the other 2 guys that were in the chase group at this point too...as we entered the tecky section, i dropped into a little dip at an angle and burped my tyre...i got worried...it was low for sure but ad not gone too low...i decided to keep on riding and not fix it...could be good could be bad...i just adjusted my riding style...sat further back on the bike thru turns and had to hit the dips square...i did end up falling once and putting a foot down twice because of it but that's it...so back to the race...Cesar and I were able to bridge back up to the 3 leaders before the 1st lap was over...so the 5 of us rolled thru together on lap 1...nothing really eventful happened thru lap 2 except the leader and heavy favorite, Nathan Sibyl, burped his tyre in the exact same place i did and had to stop to fix it. the 4 of us went on...with Cesar taking the lead for the rest of the 2nd lap. again, we all came thru together(Cesar on front, 4 n tow, thru transition area)...but that's when it all broke apart...as we went through the feed zone and rounded the first corner, 2nd place guy launched a huge attack and it splintered the group...Cesar dropped and i assumed 3rd place behind another rider and we gave chase...it wasn't long before dude in front of me was slowing...he asked if i wanted to come around and I went without hesitation...i didn't gun it, i just stayed steady...but the guy in front was gone...i continued to distance myself from the guys behind me but really didn't know if i was gaining any ground on the leader...until i started seeing him...i knew i was going to catch him on one of the last open areas...as i came out of the woods, i saw him...at this point he was 50yrd in front of me...again, i didn't gun it...just stayed right where i was...and immediately i bridged up to him once we got back in the woods...he didn't even try to keep me behind him...just pulled over and said "you want by?" and i said yep and kept on rolling! Now at this point...i was the leader on the course and i was feeling great...not tired, not cramping...quite the opposite...i was still able to stand up and power up climbs...i just started talking shit to myself...like...this is your race, and DON'T look over your shoulder...ya know stuff to keep you focused...I also think I was smiling endlessly because i knew i was going to win for the first time ever!!!!
And so i did...crossed the line 1st with about a minute on the second place guy!!! I wasn't sure how i would top the 3rd place finish at Tasli, NC a few weeks ago...but i do now...with the big "W" in what was my largest field to date!