Photo From: Mountainbikephotographer.com
It was an interesting weekend for me. Saturday I was amazed to be called up 2nd in a pretty stacked season opener. Baker, Jaque-manes, Dwight, Swanson, Grabowski and more all present and looking to get those first UCI points for the season. I proceeded to pull a pretty darn amature move and pull out of one pedal, then skip the second off the start and begin my season 20 places deep in the field. I worked like mad to get back to the front, only to drop my chain on a bumpy section right after cleanly riding the off camber section and gapping the group! I really had to dig deep the second time to come up to the group, but it was coming apart already with Baker laying down the hammer and I was at my limit. I managed to keep myself glued together and finally got away by myself to roll in for 4th, a great result but I new if it hadn't been for two super huge efforts I could have been there when the group blew apart.
Sunday went well. The course was muddier with a tough run-up section and more off camber than the day before. I felt great again and new today would be better. This time I stuck my pedals at the start and sat about 6th for the first couple of laps, keeping cool and riding smooth. I felt really comfortable and could see through all the lines. Once again Baker powered away and no one could match his pace through the bottom part of the course. I was pulling the chase group leading up the wide open road section, feeling good, but wondering when I would get jumped before the tricky off camber section and wishing I was sitting in instead of pulling. Jaque-Manes was breathing really hard right behind me though, and Doug hadn't jumped yet, so I decided they were hurting more than me and I kept the pace high. I concentrated on riding the next section perfect and was able to stick it, gaining a good sized gap on the group. I suffered pretty hard, trying to maintain my gap, while a group of four strong guys chased. I was sure they would catch me once we hit the road, but today I had an extra gear in my legs and was able to actually build on my gap for the next couple of laps!
From there is was ride smooth where I was making time, maintain in the open sections, and hammer the run-up. My gap kept opening, and at one point I brought Bakers gap back to about 10 seconds, but was never quite able to match his power and finally started racing for second.
I was really happy to finally make a podium appearance on my Trek XO-1 at a UCI event and prove to myself I can ride at the front. Big thanks to TREK for getting my new bike dialed in just in time and for helping to make it happen!
It was a great weekend, Robert Linden and Tailwind did an awesome job building a great course and keeping things rolling smooth. It really was a top notch race with a tough field and lots of great action.