Sunday, June 15, 2008

So Close, Yet So Far at Brighton Stage Race!

I had another great weekend overall, but like the title says - "So close, yet so far" sums it up for me. This was the 3rd race of the Tailwind USAC series and it was an all important "double points" race. Were talking about the Brighton Rec Stage Race weekend! One of my favorite races and favorite places to ride period. The stage race is comprised of a 6 mile TT on the "Torn Shirt" loop. A tight twisty rooty technical trail. Then in the afternoon, a 14-15 min short track race in the open park on the grass. Then Sunday is finished up with the "Crown Jewel" of the event, a 23 mile XC race on the Murray Lake loop. A very fast roller coaster of a trail!

Well going into Saturday I took a week off. The legs just weren't feeling strong and I have not had a week of rest since the 1st week of April, so it was time. In my mind I was marking Adam Naish as the guy to beat and when we lined up there he was starting 1 full min ahead of me. So I was off Feeling strong, got about 2 miles into the trail and there was Adam through the trees! Talk about hanging that carrot in front of you. I kept pushing and pushing knowing I was making up a lot of time on him, but I still was not feeling 100%. By the time I came out of the woods there was Adam about 20 sec in front. This made me happy and probably at that point made the biggest mistake of the weekend. I let up a little in the final 1/4 mile. Thinking I had wrapped up the TT, I checked the results and saw I beat Adam, but we were both beat by Scott Simpson -- Doah! My time was 34:30 Scott's time was 33:54. So I had my work cut out. We waited a few hours for the short track course to be set up. And I was ready! The short course is basically like cyclocross without the barriers and sand. So I knew this would be a great opportunity to make up some time. We lined up and went off for 5 laps on the 1.5 mile course. I felt better than I did for the TT so I put the hammer down. I took first place with a time of 14:26. Adam helped me out and took 2nd. Scott took 3rd with a time of 14:57. So going into the Murray Lake XC race, I made up all my time but 7 seconds. So in my mind who ever won the big event on Sunday would be the Stage race champion. And I was excited because the XC race was my discipline.

So here we are again for the 2nd day in a row. Lining up at the start and looking for a "W". We went out hard. It was Scott, Adam, and me. It was about 90 degrees and 100% Humidity and we were going hard. The rest of the pack dropped off early on and then to my surprise, Adam dropped off about 5 miles into it. So it was Scott and me all alone. We rode in silence for about 1/2 hr. I was trying to shake him but he kept hanging on. I finally said, "Mr. Simpson, is that you?" he responded with, "why yes Mr. Osgood." So I backed off the pace a little knowing that he would be the only one I had to beat. Scott kept telling me that he did not expect to go out so hard and that he was not sure if he could hang of the entire 3 laps. So I kept turning the screws! About 1/2 way through our 2nd lap on one of the bigger climbs, Scott dropped his chain and had to stop. I took the opportunity and pushed a little more. Coming through my 3rd lap, Scott was no where behind me. I could not see him and figured I had at least a 30 second gap, maybe more. I was still feeling strong and was ready to go for the kill. I was back in the single track and getting ready to climb the first hill of the loop and then it happened -- CRAMPS in the quads. OH NO, NOT NOW! It was hot, I was only on my 2nd water bottle, and did not realize at the time that the course was 23 miles long. I was prepared for a 18 mile "normal" XC race. So there is mistake #2 for the weekend. But I pushed on knowing that the race was mine to lose. From there on I had to use small gears to spin up all the hills. No more mashing, which meant no more putting more time into Scott. With about 4 miles to go, Scott caught me. I told him if he wanted to put the hammer down on me and win it fair and square to go ahead. He said that his legs had nothing left either and to "let's see what happens at the end." I thought OK, it's on! We pushed to the end of the course which dumps you onto a dirt road for about 1/2 mile and then a left hand turn into the grass for an uphill finish. I shifted up to my big ring with a lot of pain. I could see Scott's tire coming along side as he tried to pull ahead, and I thought not today, this is my race! I pushed the pedals a little harder and then we were in the grass. I stood up and my legs cramped like I could not believe. I was yelling like Monica Selles in a tennis match from the pain with every pedal stroke, but I was able to push through it. A couple more revolutions and there it was -- I took another 1st place XC race with a sprint finish. But now I had to wait to see how much Time separated us for the overall stage race result. I finally got off my bike and could not bend my legs because they were cramped so bad. Then we waited and waited. When the results were posted I beat Scott in the XC race with a time of 1:58:27. He finished with 1:58:29. I only gained 2 secs, not the 7 I needed to make up the difference. He was the stage champ for the weekend by only 5 secs. NOW THAT IS RACING! Way to go Scott! The funny thing is if you look at the position results I took 2nd, 1st, 1st and Scott took 1st, 3rd, 2nd. But the Stage race is based on who has the lowest overall time. By the way, Adam took 4th in the XC race and finished with a strong 3rd overall for the weekend, so great job Adam. The really cool thing is there are about 4-5 guys racing in the Sport men 30-34 class right now that can beat each other up any given weekend. And that makes racing the USAC series very exciting. So I will see you guys at Stony Creek for race #4! I got my work cut out!