Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gloucester - Part 2

When I woke up on Sunday morning I realized how long it had been since I'd competed in two races in one weekend. Needless to say we had a slightly more relaxed morning, knowing that we had plenty of time to get to the races.

The atmosphere at the course felt a lot more relaxed on Sunday, and we quickly got settled in with registration and got out on the course. Though the route was unchanged, the surface had changed substantially - the course was much drier and smoother after 1100 riders hit it the day before. I decided to up the tire pressure about 5 psi in hopes of gaining a little speed on the pavement section and the long flat sections. Once around the course felt like a sufficient warm up.

Staging was the same, though I took McCormack's advice and chose the right hand side of the line in hopes of coming around the first turn in a better position. At the whistle the start felt slower than the day before, but soon I was making my way up the right hand side of the field. I hit the hole shot in about 40th or so, and began to chip away at groups. By the second lap both colin and thayne told me I was sitting in about 25th place. As I came around the the 180 by the pits I could count out at least 10 guys in a group, no more than 10 seconds up on me. There it was, my top 10 finish, right there.

Easier said than done. Turns out that while having an aggressive start can put you in a great position for the first two laps, it also has the potential to totally zap your energy for the rest of the race. I knew I needed to be smart about this, and try to carve down the gap slowly in order to not blow up. However, this doesn't really work. I lost sight of the group in the next 2 laps. With 2 to go I faltered on the barriers and a group got past me. I manage to nip 1 of them, but he got back in front with 1 to go and was gone.

As I came through the SRAM hairpin for the last time I saw a Minuteman rider in my peripheral vision, about 2 seconds behind me, and knew I was in for a fight. as we hit the grass I put it into the big ring and took a deep breath. We took the right hand onto the pavement and he cut it inside, pulling even with me. Here it goes.

Downshift, head down, lets go. I pulled hard, desperately trying to keep my back wheel on the ground while he came around to my left hand side. About halfway up the hill to the finish our acceleration dropped and we were dead even. I thought I had lost it until he drifted back about 5 inches. That was all I needed. I dropped a gear and gave it one last push to get him by a wheel at the line.

I stuck it out for a 31st place finish, one spot out of my reach goal of the top 30. I came away from the weekend completely satisfied with my results and efforts, but ready to put some effort into the next few weeks to get into that elusive top 20 at a Verge race, and top 10 in a local.

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