Let's get right to it shall we...
The whistle blows and we're off. After missing the call up I lined up behind Rob Carmen counting on him getting off the line quick.
He didn't disappoint.
Crossing the field I'm in the top five, rounding the corner into the woods I'm in second wheel.
Going up the first double track climb I'm feeling pretty go. I'm right on the Expo Wheelman rider's wheel who is leading. I move to the rough line of the double track to pass. Seeing as it is double track and I'm taking the less than ideal line I do not call my pass. The dude chops my line.
Really? Your racing Cat 1 MOUNTAIN BIKE and you're chopping people's lines?
He chopped my line bad enough for me to put a foot down, but I maintain my position.
Keep trying to get around him, even calling my pass, but he's shutting me down. At this point it's not intentional on his part; I just can't get around him between his trail blocking dabs. I should have backed off to get a better view of the trail and where he was going
In the melee I must have struck a rock as my rear tire is going soft. I try to ignore it and hope it's my imagination but at the bottom of the first rocky descent it is flat. I stop, watch everyone pass me and hit it with CO2.
I'm watching sealant bubble out of the rim bead. That can't be good.
The game plan was to go for it, if my stoopid light rear tire failed me, drop out. I've got to get back to the finish line to do that so I might as well race until it goes flat again.
It doesn't feel like racing anymore as it is the first lap and I'm all alone in the woods. All alone but not in the good way. Things are feeling sluggish.
But I don't really have anything better to do today so might as well press on.
It's the back of my field.
I'm gaining on them, and by some miracle my tire is holding air.
I pull back about 3 guys on the first lap.
Lap 2 I get the line chopper and some of the 30-39 year olds.
The course is holding up well and there are only a couple of spots I have to run.
Lap 3 pull back some more guys in my group. Mike Rowell has flatted out and is without CO2. I offer him my second cartridge but he tells me to just go.
I pull back a few more.
Lap 4 the rain has started again. Things are now getting soupy. Very much like last year. Mike has hiked up the course a bit as I pass him on the sideline he yells "he's just up ahead".
At this point I'm not exactly sure where I stand, but as I get to the farmer's field before the final descent I see an Expo jersey up ahead. Could that be the leader? Could I be catching him?
Ah no, that's a woman.
Final descent. cross the line and there's nobody there?
Josh Wilcox, winner of the Cat1 SS is there, but I don't see anyone from my class. It's raining so maybe they ran for cover? Finally, Dave Diviney comes up to me and tells me "I think you are second, I think I won". A quick peak over Jill's shoulder confirms this.
Instead of quitting I got 2nd place.
After going for a 2 hour training ride before the race Craig pulls off 3rd on his trail bike.
my nose always looks really big at Winsted Woods.
Was the gamble worth it? Did the light, fast rolling tire pay off in the end or did it cost me? Strava says it took 59 seconds to fix my flat, David beat me by 41 seconds. Senseless speculation as who knows what would have happened if I was duking it out at the front instead of chasing from the back.
Anyways, great way to spend a rainy Sunday.
Props to Neal for winning the Pro race/CT Champs and James for 4th overall/bronze in the CT champs. Great job guys!!