Almost. But that only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, right? Oh that close. That absolute sweetness of being at the front and truly believing I am going to put my hands above my head and know what it feels like again. But alas, not today. I'll get to it all in a minute....
I think I have something dialed: race day food. It's taken me at least a decade to figure it out, but I think the secret pre-race meal is (drum roll): pancakes. Before every sporting event of my life, my pops used to whip up his patented breakfast: the Egg Mc Dad-which. Eggs, a bit-o-cheese on toasted Jewish rye. Dee-lish. And I'd replicate that often when I moved out on my own and continued the sporting life (and no, I know what you're thinking, my cholesterol level is mad low, thankfully!).
But as of late, I needed a change. A bit of the home made pancake action was the remedy and for some reason, all seems right in the world. I feel deeper and better with my performances after scarfing 'em down. Or, maybe it's me starting to separate myself from him, pops, as the only reason to have an Egg Mc Dad-which was tradition. Maybe it's just time to move on and leave what was experienced behind.
The 'cross was a good one today folks. A beautiful one. It was an 'On The Cross' event held in Littleton CO at the Chatfield State Park grounds. Everything this course dished out was seemingly designed for me. Incredibly flowy single track, tough technical transitions, lots of barrier work, sand sections. It was a long course but the whole thing was single track! Truly! When I say single track, I mean the sweet stuff that you lust on your MTB carving in and out and up and down of apexes, berms and between trees. The course was made for me, I swear. Honestly, pre-riding it reminded me EXACTLY of the first course we did in Belgium, Shriek Grotloo, and honestly a bit better. And yes, I can say that with confidence.
The pre-ride proved that a hole shot was a requirement. The long, drag straight-away made a HARD right turn into the singletrack. So 10 abreast needed to single file it out in a 1/4 mile drag race and flow into the twisties. A lot of the normal heavies weren't there (where are you Timmy, Chris, Jeff??) but regardless, the pre-ride was firing things in my legs that I haven't felt in a while. I did not care who toed the line. I was getting into the singletrack first.
I got the call up which was great and situated in the position I wanted to be in: Straight shot down the drag strip. TWEEEEEEEEEEEET! We're off. Exactly to plan I drill it...hard. I went into my 42 x 12 in like 3 pedal strokes it seemed and flew right into the singletrack. Honestly, that was it. I never looked back. Me, my team mate Whit Johnson and Ward were off and running and nearly immediately gaped the field in the first lap. The three of us, mountain bikers first and foremost, were off to the races. I ran my 34 Dugast Typhoons today at about 35-36 PSI and it was exactly like my bike was on a fun park ride's rails through the twisty single track. We put a massive gap in these sections so it was clear you needed some level of flow-skill only learned when you are on fat tires. No brakes and lots of leaning/body english to keep momentum.
2nd lap and I did the unthinkable (at least to me...): I clip a barrier! Man oh man! I immediately jump up and I am back on with Whit and Ward. We still have a gap but that yard sale certainly did not help! I am a bit rattled but flow behind the boys and proceed to lead out the next lap, followed by Whit's lead on the 4th lap and my final lead again on the bell lap. Things are going great and I have folks (like Dr. Pete!!) yelling at me as they can see I want this...badly. It's been too long. I get into the singletrack in 3rd position. By this time the three of us have a passenger: JJ Clark. Homie can win races. I am tweaking a bit as I keep thinking of pops and that I am absolutely going to win this thing. No question. I could feel that I could gap people on prior laps and saved a bit. We all barrel out of the single track onto a dirt road power section. I tell Whit, "Dude, I'm going to bring this home for my pops" (I literally said that, felt it, meant it and went for it...but such an emotionally driven move! I wasn't thinking!). I attack so hard that I feel like I have the gap but it was just that too far out from the finish. Whit does an awesome job blocking but JJ who'd had fresher legs bridges up to me and sets a harder tempo and I suffer for it. Whit edges up past me and sets behind JJ along with Ward and I think I am still OK. They gap me slightly and that was it! I could not bridge the TEN FEET to get their wheels. If I'd only waited and done what I was doing ALL race....flying through the sand sections...I would have been there. Arms up i the air. Almost pops! Almost. The raddest part of the day: Whit taking first and Ward 2nd. The WB is like a brother and if you knew how much I respect his abilities, you'd know how proud I was to be in site of he and of course Whit. JJ is a guy I do not know too well, but beyond his well known achievements on the bike, if he's like his Spike Shooter team brethren (the 'Brians'), he's a good guy in my book. Whit 1st, Ward 2nd, JJ 3rd yours truly 4th.
Horseshoes and hand grenades. It felt great and I have not had that much fun in bike racing since...well since I can not remember when. I was with such dear friends throwing down gauntlets that I did not know I could throw at this stage of the season. It's motivation to stay at the very pointing end...solely due to the fun factor.
Hopefully pics later if anyone got any!
George pulled through on the pics!