The last weekend of racing before nationals took place this weekend in lower Rhode Island. The temps on Saturday were much colder than the previous few weeks of racing, but that changed Sunday again and we had balmy 45 and sun for most of the day again.
Saturday's race was decent, I was riding 2nd for half the lap, but a bit over my limit and I got popped off pretty easy at the start of the second lap. I settled into a good group and rode around the mostly wide open and windy course on the back of the group, finally outsprinting the group for 6th. I was riding with Troy Wells for a bunch of laps and I've never seen anybody push a bigger gear or crash more times than him. I think he crashed times in front of me, once I ran over his bike when he crashed on a decent and teh a lap later I heard him hit the frozen ground hard after not clearing the barriers on an attempted bunny hop. I never put myself into the hurt zone too much on Saturday cause Sunday's race was a much better course for me and I really wanted to do well there.
It worked out well for me too. I've been riding much stronger on day two of racing all year and thise weekend was no different. I actually had one of the best races of my season and by the end of the race I found myself up against Mark Mccormack sprinting for 2nd!
I had taken it pretty easy the first lap while things settled in and down, then I started going across gaps and half way into the race found myself just off the back of Matt White and Mccormack who were watching each other because they were both fighting for the VERGE series overall. I got on the back just as Mccormack attacked so I forced Matt to pull, then I jumped him and went across to Mark with a lap to go. Again I sat on as Mark gave me the elbow flick to pull through of which I politely declined - reminding him it was his job if he wanted to stay ahead of Matt and win the VERGE series. He then apologized to me for his "rude fans" who were giving me a hard time as they cheered him on, it was pretty funny, but Marks the man and I just laughed. Shortly after I jumped him going into the technical beach section which I had been able to ride pretty well the last few laps and I hoped to get a gap there. I bobbled a bit and had to dismount so I didn't get the gap I hoped to gain, which basically meant I would be leading Mark out into a 200m cement road finish. I considered brake checking him out of the last U turn, but after his apology for his rude fans I thought that would be a somewhat dirty move (even though I saw Mark do it to Todd Wells last year at a race) and decided I sprint it like a man and see what happened. I really hit the rooty corner perfect and was out of the corner pretty quick giving it everything my 40x11 had, which apparently is more than I thought, cause I was able to take Mark to the line for 2nd and my strongest ride of the season yet.
It felt great to be on the podium with TJ and Mark and gives me a lot of confidence for the National championships next weekend. I've just got to figure out how to go that fast on the first day of racing between now and Saturday.