Right now, I am sitting at my computer reminiscing about the race yesterday. I didn't meet my expectations, but then again does anyone ever meet there own expectations? But before I get into detail with the race, let me tell you a little of whats happened lately. After being off the bike for several weeks, getting my bikes fit by Matt Goforth of On Your Mark Bike Shop, a laser bike fit specialist, my knee started to come around. The pain slowly subsided and about...umm... two weeks ago the pain completely went away. Now even when my knee was bothering me and still hurting, I was able to do long easy rides, but couldn't do anything over base pace at all. Due to this I lost a lot of top end power. So when my knee quit hurting, those two weeks before Clemson I started doing a fair amount of harder rides to bring my power up. So thats where I am at right now. On to the Race!
Saturday morning I woke up at 7am to start packing the car so we could start our 8 hour trip to Clemson. we left the house a little later than planned at about 9am. I drove to the south side of atlanta while Ryan slept, and then he took over as we started the last leg of the trip to South Carolina. We got to the course just before 5, and we could hear Dave Berger on the PA telling everyone to get to the starting line for the time trial. We diligently got ready and went to preride the course. about a mile in, we got to where they were starting the time trial, so we had to pull off the trail and started talking to Dave Berger. He easily persuaded me to do the time trial, and I persuaded Ryan that I could sign him up too. well we were the last few to go off, and hadn't even preridden the course yet either. Robert Marion was holding the fastest time with a strong 19:31. Lets just say Ryan did what he had to and turned out a 19:23! a very impressive run for not knowing what he was getting into! I on the other hand would rather just say "I have had better days".... yeah....about that.....
Sunday! Happy Fathers Day first off! we woke up at 7 am and headed down stairs for some continental breakfast. I had a bagel, some danish thing, and a cup of apple juice. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but hey it was free. And I was wanting to try a new prerace eating strategy. It seems I have always had an enormous appetite before a race, so this time I decided to tone it down a bit. Well enough about breakfast. We finally get to the track and get all setup and ready. warming up I was feeling a little low on power, but still good considering. Sitting on the starting line waiting for the whistle, I realized how much I had missed doing this over the last 2 months. The whistle blew and I got into my pedal immediately! "YES!" I start hammering and get a bike length or two on everyone and then sit down and try to motor around the sweeping fire road turn. As we are headed into it I see Seth and Luke start to come underneath me so I gas it a little harder, only to send myself up into the rocks on the edge of the road, so I have to check up. I ended up getting into the single track in 6th, not bad. I was pretty much where I wanted to be. I knew everyone in front of me was strong and fast so I didn't have to worry about an early gap. unfortunately not five minutes into the race my chain decides to hate me and wrap itself up in between my crank arm and chain ring. Not knowing what happened, I tried to pedal and it just wedged harder up in there. So I pull off the trail and try to pull it out, but its not budging at all. I tried being gentle with it hoping I can work it out, but its not moving at all. So when stuff doesn't move gently what do you have to do? Thats right! I put some muscle into that thing! one foot on the bike and both hands pulling on the chain. I finally got the chain out, but I bent a few links in the process. "Great!" "Now its probably gonna start skipping and break!" at this point I could hear the 30+ experts weren't but 10 seconds behind me. So I started my long and what I thought was gonna be lonesome race, chasing the rest of the pack. I soon caught one guy in my class, and rode behind him for 2 or 3 minutes, and then the 30+ experts were knocking on the door, so I soon got around him and rode with the 30+ leaders. This was nice because it motivated both of us. They had someone to chase and I had someone to run away from. little did I know about 5 more 30+ guys were catching us, and at the end of the lap they were with us. well the beginning of the second lap I rode with them and then one of them attacked. He got about 10 seconds on us, and then I decided that I should chase him down and we could work together. So thats what I did, it took me about 3 minutes to catch him, but when I did he got on it a little harder, and we rocked and rolled away from the pack! riding with those guys was awesome because they have so much experience and are sooo smooth! Any ways, at the finish of the second lap, headed for my last, someone told me I was in 4th, and I could see 3rd up ahead maybe 10 seconds up. Oh I forgot to mention, I passed several guys on my first and second lap, but didn't think I was up into the top five. This really got me fired up and I started to hang it out more in the technical sections and downhills. But wouldn't you know, my chain just hated me! it fell off again in between the crank and the chain ring, but not as bad this time. I got it out and back riding in about 15 seconds, but now thats 15 seconds more he has on me! So stupid Regan decided to use his big chainring about 3 more times that lap, and every time I did I would hit a small bump, and bam! gotta stop and pull the chain out again! I finally stopped using my big ring, and gave it all I had in my middle ring for a 4th place finish. It wasn't as good as I was hoping for, but looking back on it now, I realized I had one of my best races yet. Thats about all I have to say about my race. Ryan was riding in third and most likely running down the leaders when he cut a sidewall down on his tire and had to walk it in. Travis Livermon won the pro race by almost 2 minutes over Robert Marion, and Matt Rotroff had an awesome race coming in 3rd. Natasha Cowie won the Pro womens race over second place Kylie Krauss, and 3rd place Kim Flynn. I would like to thank Industry Nine wheels for helping me get up the hills and having such sick engagement! I also want to thank Maxxis for the fast and durable monorail and ridgeline tires! As well as Matt Goforth of On Your Mark Fitness Center for fitting my bikes and the great training tips. And last but not least, I want to thank Mom and Dad for there support for this crazy dream. later!
photos courtesy of Matt St. Marie