AWESOME race and a really good file to show for it too.
This was the Idyllwild Spring Challenge and I really liked the course because it has a little bit of altitude, hard steep, technical climbs, and technical descending.
Registration took longer than I thought it would (1 hr.) and I was worried that I wouldn't get to warm up. Maybe I wouldn't even make it to the start in time?
Luckily the friendly staff at the race took pity on me (and the other people in line) and they pushed the start time back... but that still only left enough time to kit up and use the restroom, with an extremely cursory warmup.
At that point I was pretty happy that it would be a long race (30+ miles).
Since I warmed up as late as possible and they started the Semi Pros with the Pros that meant I was pretty much in the dead-last starting position.
So then they said "go" and 5 sec. later we were in singletrack and I was behind an S-load of racers in a cloud of dust!
I just sat in, passing where I could get by without wasting too much energy until I caught up to Romolo Forcino and Jason Siegle, 2 fast local Semi Pro racers.
There was one other guy there with a CamelBak who I didn't know but who was strong, and he attacked and jumped off the front.
At the time I wasn't able to go with him but after a bit I felt okay so I went hard up a climb and over the top, with Romolo hot on my heels and Robert Herber (a local Pro who had stopped to help a downed racer) right behind us.
Romolo and I rode together, with him setting a fast pace through the tight singletrack, until the REALLY steep climb about an hour and a half into the race.
This section of course actually hit 17% grade at one point! Although it was fireroad it had been paved so that the trucks would have enough traction to get up it and to prevent erosion.
It was about a 16 minute climb but it was really hard and it was pretty much the last long climb in the race so I figured it was going to be where the selection would be made.
I just went as hard up it as I could without popping and I caught the guy with the CamelBak and got a gap on him and and Romolo as I went over the top with Robert Herber leading the way into the fast, loose singletrack.
Robert was going pretty well down the steep descent which suited me fine because I knew that Romolo (a good descender) would be looking to catch us.
I lost some speed in a sandy corner and Robert rode out of sight, but then he must've bobbled too because a minute later I passed him as he was getting up to speed and there was a cloud of dust there.
I was still thinking about Romolo, Jason Siegle and the CamelBak racer though, and I figured now would be my best chance to stay away because if Romolo caught me again I didn't think I'd be able to drop him.
At that point I thought I was in first place so I was pretty motivated and I imagined that Romolo would be working hard to catch me so I went super hard.
In the end it's a good thing that I did because it turned out there was another racer in front of me!
I don't know who he was but I know he was from AZ because he told me when I passed him.
He rode behind me for probably half an hour with both of us passing slower racers who had done a shorter loop every couple minutes.
The singletrack was very twisty and rolling and you had to keep pedalling the whole time.
It seemed like he wasn't quite as comfortable in those sections so I just tried to be smooth and not make any mistakes and after about half an hour the invisible rubber band connecting us stretched and broke.
At that point I really couldn't have been more motivated so I just drilled it all the way to the line, fighting off cramps and passing racers from other classes.
Again I just tried to be smooth and not make mistakes.
There was a long stretch of straigh asphalt after the last main descent (which is one of the funnest, coolest descents EVER) and I kept looking over my shoulder, paranoid that I'd see him and he'd see me and give chase... I didn't have a whole lot of energy left for that kind of battle by then!
I didn't see him, but I wasn't taking any chances so I hammered up the final climb as well as I could without cramping and gave everything I had in the last 2-3 minutes before the line.
When I crossed I asked if I was the first Semi-Pro but the officials didn't know so I had to wait for results.
I THOUGHT I had won though, and it turned out I was right!!!!
I got a really cool trophy made from a large piece of marble that had been engraved AND 500 bucks!!!
Definitely my best race to date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!