This year's race was packed with a lot of racers! Which is great to see. And with another season, there are always new faces in the expert 30-39 class. This year was no different. But not only were the the folks I don't know, but a lot of fast folks that moved up from the younger age group. So I figured I would have my work cut out for me, and was just hoping that all the work I been putting into training would pay off and at least keep me competitive.
As we lined up, it was a little confusing, not to mention that the class was 20 racers strong! So I ended up in a 2nd row start. When we took off, I got flushed to around 8th place and just sat there to see what would happen. As we rolled through the woods, the pace was not blistering and a group of 10 or more stuck together. I would move up as some made mistakes, or fell off the pace. By about 8 miles, I was sitting in around top 5 and looking to bridge the gap to the top 3 guys, Dub-9, Dan Sterling, and Jody Cagle. As I crested the top of a climb and stood up to accelerate around a group of guys, I had to take a less optimal line and caught a root with my pedal. This completely threw me over the handle bars and onto the ground! UGH! I could see the top 5 group slip away through the woods. But now full of adrenaline, I lit a match.
I pushed hard to find the front of the group again. and within 2 miles, and the beginning of the 2nd lap. I found myself in a battle for top 3 with Dub-9 and Roger Anthony.
Dub pushed the pace, and I sat in. We stayed wheel to wheel with Roger in tow. We had 2 other riders with us from the 40-49 age group as well. Later in the race, Dub tried to make a pass around the older rider, and was forced off into woods, but he was able to work his way back. Into the final few meters of the race. We were all jockeying for position. Bumping and grinding know one was willing to give an inch. I managed to push forward enough to get my wheel out first and into the last corner to take the best line. I made one last acceleration to the line, and found myself first across. An early season unexpected win... I will take it!
Great job to Dub-9 and Roger for the tape to tape battle. I'm sure this will not be the last. And congrats to all the other guys in the class. It's been a long time since I have been in a race with that many guys riding together that deep into a race. And that's the way it should be.
My hats off to Brad Lako. Stepping up to Elite and showing he can hang with some blistering lap times. Look for a top 5 out of him soon.