Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stage 3

It was nice only having to drive 20 minutes to the start of today's stage, located in North Mills River.  I addition, the start was scheduled later at 11 am. After dropping the kid off at school, I went back home, had some more coffee, ate some food, then headed out to the race. 

After warming up, I headed over to the start line.  I really wanted to take it easy today, and save it for Friday, but that was not going to happen.  The gun went off, and after the short neutral start, we were back to racing.  I followed wheels up Wash Creek Rd until the turn on Spencer then went my own pace.   There were plenty of people for the climb and at the top before dropping down Spencer Gap, Jason, who is in 6th place behind me, came up and I let him pass.  I didn't see him until the finish. 

The rest of the day was spent going as fast as I could without blowing up.  The temps were cooler today which helped a lot.  Up Middle Fork, down the ripping fast and fun flowing pump track that is Fletcher Creek,  up and down the gravel road to Trace Ridge parking lot.  A quick water re-fill and PB & J and down the sketchy lower Trace.  ( I have a witness who will say that I rode all of it).

Out onto the pavement and tucked into time trial position, it was nice to push a big gear and fly down some pavement, I could have used another mile of that.  Left on Wash Creek Rd, back to the parking lot, then up Trace.

I used to ride up Trace a lot, cleaning 99% of it, but now it is rutted and eroded, and today I walked more than usual, but then rode more than I had planned.  I was simply in the zone and kept the pedals spinning. 

On the climb I reeled in and passed 3 people, one of which was Claire, same as yesterday.  I made it my goal to get down the mountain without her catching me.  I made it to the gate at Wash Creek Road, and she and Keith from I-9 caught me.  I waved Claire around and followed her down the gravel, until she almost went over the hood of a car.... she lost some momentum,  I passed her and pinned it past the left turn, around the gate and up the double track to Bear Branch. I kept listening, thinking she would not be far behind,  bombed the single track (bombed being a relative term) took the left hand 180 to the finish and sprinted to a time of 2:46.  

Jason had finished 4 minutes ahead of me,  meaning that I retain 5th place in Open Men's.   Although, as I told my friend Mike tonight,  I'm finishing the stages faster than last year, and while 5th would be cool,  I'm satisfied with my performance so far! 

Tomorrow will be rough: 
Stage 4
The Promised Land Loop
39 miles, 8,000+ ft of elevation gain!! 

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