So yesterday got all the excuses out of the way, let's get to the race.
The neutral start was as expected, a little too "neutral" for me. Not anyone's fault other than my own. I suck at this part of the game. I see Brad, Justin and maybe a few other single speeders get ahead of me. Who knows? It's a mad chaos of spinning and unexpected braking. Pegged heart rate and cadence and the nervous feel of a criterium.
We hit the right turn, the lead out vehicle pulls away, and the race is on. I can still see the Motor Mile duo up ahead and get past one single speeder... I don't think there's any other non-Motor Mile SS'ers ahead. Brad and Justin start opening up a gap, and I do what I can to keep them in sight. The last time I see them is six miles in, one switchback ahead. I'm now officially "chasing."
Top of the climb (sorta), struggle to free at least one knee from its captivity inside this now very unnecessary knee warmer, manage to complete the task on the third try without getting off the bike or putting myself in a ditch.
And then the rest of the first climb and into the incredibly fast, washboard, rutted, loose, occasionally baby-headed descent into the first aid station. I manage to not fly off the side of the road while making it past some of the hundred milers we were now catching up to already.
Twenty miles and some change later, we finally enter the first piece of trail, the one I remember liking and one of the reasons I've come back. I just didn't remember that it took twenty miles of riding to get there. Apparently three years is the amount of time it takes to forget the twenty mile prelude to the fun.
Now I start to boogie. I've heard that if one chooses to, they can turn the screws pretty hard for a very long time... as long as you eat and stuff. I'm gonna give that a try. I hit the single track like I'm in a cross country race. Why not? I read that I can do this on the internet.
I make it to the second aid station in good shape. 27 miles in and both bottles of Half Evil already in me as well as a couple gels. Pull off my other knee warmer, very much regret wearing a base layer, grab my fresh bottles and go. This is where I failed in '12, not knowing this was the last climb with any teeth before the finish. I drill it all the way up, looking ahead for any Motor Mile jerseys, although for the life of me, I couldn't remember what they looked like.
Back down to aid three (which was aid two when I came from the other direction), and despite how hard I just pushed it, I never made contact with either Brad or Justin. Still convincing myself that I could keep up the pace, I hammered out of there without stopping to enjoy the copious variety of food wonders.
All I could remember about the '12 course from that point was:
There are no significant climbs.
There was still a lot of racing to be done.
I was still riding like... I dunno. As fast as I ever remember pushing myself in an event lasting more than two hours. I passed multiple riders until I popped out at aid four, looking briefly for this sign...
I never did. It was at aid four, and I'm just a moron... because that's where they said it would be.
Little did I know, but they had added a certain amount of challenging trail after aid four. I fell off my pace a bit, and when I saw my computer showing that I was closing in on the fifty mile mark and knew I was nowhere near done, I clicked it over to show my time. I wasn't going to break my 4:21 mark from '12. Meh.
I continued to pass more geared riders, hoping to see somebody ahead with no dangly pieces on the back of their bike, but alas... nope.
Popped out on the road, spun my ass off, internally bitched about all the climbing I had forgotten about, got passed by a couple guys on gears, and rode into the w(h)inery with the Male 50+ winner, Jorge Cortes, after two or three congratulatory fist-bumps.
Brad and Justin had a hell of a race, with Justin finishing on an almost flat tire just a little more than 20 seconds ahead of Brad. Me? I was fifteen minutes back, pointlessly chasing the whole time. Ghosts. They were ghosts all day long.
My ironic prize? Suspension service coupon. Wonder if they would be willing to polish my Enve crabon frok?
Pisgah Tavern Elite MTB Team came in third in the Female 40+...
Faster Mustache teammate) Brian Conroy took fourth in the Male 40+