continued: ...I put my head down and sprinted!
Several hundred yards down the track, just past the Start/Finish area I caught on to the back and sat in. There was a rider, I think his name was Shane, who was trying to get us to work together but I didn't have much in me at the time. He was strong though, and he pulled a lot on the racetrack.
By the time we got around the racetrack and back to the dirt I had been relieved to find that my new bottle was filled with FRS and had a moment to get recovered.
Local Semi-Pro Romolo Forcino and another rider jumped!
I wasn't THAT recovered.
At one point I passed Papo on the side of the trail, I wondered if I should go back and see what he needed but I knew he had air and tools, and even if he needed a tube, mine wouldn't fit his 29er wheel. I found out later that he had eaten something questionable at Denny's and gotted a little ill.
After sitting in for a while though I started feeling better, and just a minute before the singletrack another rider jumped.
He wasn't too far off the front when the singletrack came into sight and I was feeling better by then so I jumped too and was next in line going into the singletrack, with him just out of sight.
I am glad I went when I did because when I came back out onto the fireroad there wasn't anyone behind me.
I chased him for a long time. Every once in a while I would see him disappear around a corner just as I was coming around a corner myself.
I think it was during this time that I passed Romolo. I am guessing that he and the rider he had broken away with had worn each other out because when I passed them at the top of a hill (I sprinted the bottom and carried more speed over the top) neither one tried to follow and both looked tired.
I still hadn't caught the rider in front when I came into the first feed zone.
It was at this point that Subaru/Gary Fisher team manager Jon Rourke made a critical contribution to one of my best races ever.
As I came through the feed zone he cheered me on and handed me a bottle of flat Coke.
Once I had the calories of the Coke in me I started to get a second wind... then I looked down and saw the initials on the bottle: JHK
I got so pumped right then that I surged up to the rider I had been chasing!
When I pulled up, he said: "Where'd you come from?"
I told him I had been chasing him ever since he jumped off the front before the singletrack.
He noticed that I had some "snap" in my legs and asked if I wanted to work together against the wind. I said OK but privately thought we might be separated before we got to the open part of the course, where wind was more of an issue.
While we were in the singletrack he said I rode it like a local and asked where I was from. I was pretty stoked on that because he was one of the fastest guys I had seen, so coming from him it was a nice compliment.
He started to say where he was from, and I think it was somewhere relatively close to Altadena from his tone of voice, but that's where we sort of started to separate and I couldn't quite hear him.
I rode alone from that point on, passing as many people as I could. I made the most time on a rolling singletrack/fireroad section that had a lot of short, steep climbs. They were like long rollers that I could sprint the bottom of and grind out the top.
I rode out in the wind the last couple of miles, trying to pass the guy in 23rd place, who was a couple hundred yards ahead of me, and trying not to let the guy in 25th place catch me. Together the three of us passed a lot of riders. Those were the most exhausting miles of the race.
When I got onto the racetrack for the last time I looked back and saw that I had dropped the rider chasing me. I knew the finish was up ahead so I put my head down and sprinted the last hundred meters!
I vaguely remember Larry Longo saying something encouraging.
After I crossed the line someone cut off my timing chip and I was met by my mom, dad, cousin Mary, Brooke and Alex.
I told Alex about the race...
Mom had food and a Sierra Nevada IPA...
Alex and I got to talk with Cody Peterson, one of the nicest pros on the circuit...
Mom and Mary took pictures (my dad is standing behind in a yellow hat, doing something with a video camera)...
Photo op with Fred Drier of Velo News fame ("Fred's Eye View"), yet another cool person on the MTB circuit...
Heather had a strong finish, her time was a little faster than mine! (Okay, so I am drinking STILL, in another picture... but I am really thirsty, and it's still the same beer!!)
Alex, with Jason Siegle rolling in...
Super Sue Haywood coming across...
Barry having fun with bikes...
Lyle and Alex having fun with bikes...
Lyle and Brooke having fun with bikes...
The scenery in Monterey was fantastic and made a beautiful backdrop for a week of racing...
This was tricky. There was no place to put my food (in hindsight I should've given it to the cameraman/woman) so I ended up taking in with me, being unwilling to set it down anywhere inside and, um.... multitasking.
More miscellaneous bits of the Otter tomorrow!