Got up, coffee, steal cuts.....blah blah blah, same old morning before a race. One thing that was interesting was that it was 12 degress and drizzling. Basically the same weather that can be expected at the Speedriver Kelso cross races at the end of october.
Headed down and made it there by 11:30 to give myself some time to register. It was interesting to see peter in registration, behind the preregistration table. As i moved to the day off registration he procedded to call me a high roller. And that im no longer the cheapest person he knows. Picked up the latest cyclocross OCA booklet, which features many pictures of my right leg. Definetly photoshopped to look more ripped.
Said hi to Havy and Sue, their cute baby girl Alexa was actually awake for once. I told Havy he should take her to the doctor cause i always just see her sleeping. Got complimented by Liz on my facial grooming she said i know looked presentable.
Warmed up with john fisher good times, he just picked up a pair of actual MTB race shoes, so he can stop wearing his high top winter dh shoes.
Got lined up, usual smack talk on the line. Told Peter no pressure but he was my pick for today. I felt good, but i was a little unsure of my race form. I was ready for a good whopping to be honest. Not trying to sound like i was negative on the race but i was cautiously optimistic about my chances.
Started, missed my pedal a touch and found myself a little behind the 8 ball. I wasn't to concerned and stayed calm. Mike was off the front killing it. By the time we hit the first climb we were pretty much all back together. The pace wasn't insane which was nice. I could handle sane a pace. By the first pieces of singletrack but the field was just strung out into one long line. I was sitting 5 or 6th on a double track and Juiceboy comes by with about a millimeter to spare on my right side. Almost said something but kept quiet the pace was low so he was using to move up. But sure enough the first rock pile in the "extreme" trail he bobeled a dabbed. Opening a gap to the leaders. May have said a word or two about that. But he closed it up quickly. A couple sections later i came by and had some good momentun that brought me up to 3rd heading to the first DH. Legs felt ok, not stellar wasn't ready to kill it off the front. Mike bombed the dh super d style, and we hit the next climb back up the escarpment. My legs felt a little heavy and i was glad there wasn't an attack, came through the lap, actually i moved into the leas cause mike and pete almost went across the finish line.
I lead the next lap, i didn't feel like Leader material at that point but if the guys were willing to follow me in my middle ring hey no worries. A selection occured early this lap which left 4 of us. Mike, Peter, Eric and myself. I immediatly thought back to the Jesse Jakomait Kelso death train of 2004, with me hanging on for dear life off Jesse J. Greg R. , and Matt P. We lapped through and i grapped my bottle from havy who said i had to get closer to him. Now its kinda hard to describe without a diagram, but basically if you were getting feed in the team zone you had to ride farther off the main line, it wasn't all that well laid out, i smiled and said no problem.
Third lap, i fell back into 3rd spot behind mike and peter. They upped the pace and i was again just hanging on wondering how i was going to get to the finish. My goal at that point was to hang on as long as possible and open up a good gap to 5th. Hit the first dh, then up the 2nd climb Mike pinned it and only peter could respond, Eric came by me, and this was the deciding point in the race. It would have been soooo easy for me to just sit up and settle into my own pace. But the stubbourness in me got me to crank it for the next km or so and ride back to the trio.
This was early 4th lap, Peter was leading with Eric on his wheel. Pete kept the tempo high and Mike started to let the gap go. I looked down at my watch and saw 1:10, oh crap gotta get by Mike. Came by and chased down the now trek store duo. Rode there for the rest of the lap, Pete and Eric seemed to have really good legs, there are a bunch of places at Kelso where you come out of singletrack and have to accelerate to 30 kph on the flat double track. Pete made it look easy his cadence and pedal stroke were something to behold. Eric could just get out of saddle and boost his speed with ease too. So here i am thinking 3rd is pretty good, i can be happy with third. My legs were actually starting to feel better as the race went on. I could ride a nice high pace but i couldn't respond if there was an attack.
Last lap, nothing much changed, we were hitting some good traffic but everyone was pretty cool and let the three of us by. There was one guy who was just out to be an ass, but it wasn't to big a deal. In the "extreme" trail Pete was leading Eric then me. Passed some masters dudes. And entered a bit of a slalom three quick turns through three trees. Basically a quick zig then a zag, but you have to get the timing right. Pete passed through, then it happend really quick but Eric "pinball" Batty clipped the first tree, hit the second tree then high sided it around the third. I did my best to hit the brakes but ended up doing a little high side myself. Eric was a good 6 feet away from his bike, his bike, my bike and me where just a tangled mess on the trail. I didn't crash hard i knew i was ok, Eric hit hard and i wasn't sure, but we got up i handed him his bike and he got back on. We got going again pretty quick but Peter was almost out of sight and its tough to close stuff down on the fast course of Kelso, I could tell Eric was a bit zapped he hit his head pretty good. Hit the dh and the next climb, nearing the top i hit the gas on a multi line climb and opened up a gap i wasn't really thinking about Peter i was pretty sure he was gone. Hit the last DH "Fire" wicked downhill trail made for small people, immediate handycap if you over 6 foot.
Came out to the field and thought hey 2nd is pretty good, i was third last year, and my call on Peter was right, I was prety happy hes been super consitent and it was time for him to win an o-cup. Just as i was thinking how nice it would be to cruise in, I looked up and saw Pete not to far ahead. Oh crap this is gonna hurt. I wasn't sure if Pete was just cruising or if he was hurting Pete's a smart guy and wouldn't let something like that slip. I punched it, made myself hurt for the last couple hundred meters, and on the last pitch up the soft grass i was able to come by on the left. Again it happend so fast it took a few seconds to sink in that i won.
Even if you don't (think) you feel great just keep pushing till its over and you never know what will happen. my motivational speech of the day
And i would like to give credit to Hardwood hills all those years of racing out pine trail on a foot deep of wood chips i think prepeared me for that finish.
The rest of the team kicked it good, Catherine won the womens race, Zach was 6th overall and a few seconds off the espoir win, Stu was a few seconds off zach.
Big thanks to Kevin for the bottle passing and magic touch with the bike. Matt P for being Matt P the most interesting man in Ontario cycling he can speak french in russian. And all the other cheer leaders out there. Tammy, Liz...mom...you know who you are.
So this concludes my ontario MTB season, a couple races left in europe before ditching the fat tires for skinny tubulars, already looking forward to it.