So there I was, sitting at the starting line of the Cat 3/4 race surrounded by all these gentlemen chatting and laughing, and all I could think of was how nervous I was. I always get nervous before a race like this one, the good, hard ones deserve a response of nervousness. I feel it's a sign of respect for what is about to be felt, but I digress.
I did a pretty good job of lining up at the front of the group with the rest of the team, and had a decent start. Shane was at the front and, what seemed ad-lib, attacked and took a guy with him off the front. So I felt my job was pretty clear: block and block well. For the first lap, no one wanted to chase and xxx jerseys controlled the front. By the end of the first lap, Shane had pulled to a 3minute advantage and then the field started chasing.
2nd lap began, and it started with a desire to tear me limb from limb. The first climb into town was where we bottlenecked with another race group and I got squeezed out towards the back. That's where I stayed for 5 miles for so, and where I witnessed the carnage that was taking place in terms of people getting dropped. After a couple turns into head winds and going up rollers, the back riders started drifting off and I was stuck behind them. It took all I had to get back onto the group not once but twice, but I did it and by that point I was pretty determined not to be at the back again. I started moving forward in the pack of what was 100 at the beginning and is now about 30. Two guys passed, three, four, I was feeling good, recovery was in progress and I was hanging on. I looked backwards after a while and saw that still I was on the back.
The second climb up Major Hill began, by this point Shane was caught and the group was back together. Turned out to be a good thing too, no one wanted to work hard and the pace stayed an easy 22 mph for quarter the last lap. Luke was still in good position at the front of the pack and I knew he would be wanting help coming towards the finish line so I started moving up in the field. This was working well, I got to the front quarter of the field with 15 miles to go, and Mesa rider jumped off the front in a solo attack that eventually proved the winning move. I attempted to bridge up to him with a Vision Quest rider, but only proved to gain time on the field and not the leader. with 3 miles to go I bonked and was dropped by what was now a four man chase, and was caught by the field with half a mile to go in the race.
Disappointing I didn't stay away: Not at all, I realized I do have the legs for that, and I learned 2 huge lessons.
1.) As Kirby told me after the race. "Don't pull so much."
2.) EAT EAT EAT. On a ride that long either be super confident in your handling skills to ride in a pack no handed or make your food super easy accessible so you can eat every 8-10 miles. Otherwise you're going to bonk with three miles to go and get caught.