2010 Fat Tire Classic.
PRE RACE: The day did not start out well when I got pulled over for doing 75 on a stretch of 3 lane highway (rt 6) which was posted (and I did not see) at 50 mph. The ticket I received was not the worst part either. I was hoping to get to the race early so I could take some pics of the Nate and Mike racing. Well it took the cop 20+ mins to give the freaking ticket. You would assume that w/ technology he could have all my info at his finger tips w/ in seconds or at least minutes. I bet the guy was just having a sandwich and checking his FB. That ticket meant I have gotten pulled over for speeding 3x w/in the last year and I better get the message I need to slow down (and save that speed for when I am on the bike!) Got to the race in time for me to get registered, changed, and get a decent warm up in.
COURSE: Race course, though a slightly different lay out every year, was quite familiar to me as I have raced this at least 10x over the past decade. It’s always fast! Lots of fire road and open sections w/ some twisty single track thrown in to make it a mtb course. Nothing technical, though some root sections, and a couple of steep short punchy climb. It has some really nice flow to it though. There was a new climb this year right before the end of the lap that was really steep and required some careful traction and power, but wasn’t very long. I’ve also said this a thousand times: this course brings out all the roadies. And indeed the field was quite big w/ lots of faces I was not familiar w/.
BROTHER: The guy standing next to me, I knew quite well though. My younger brother! We were back to racing in the same age group and same category. He used to be one fast mofo (and that is quite a good story) until he got hurt. And I mean “winning cat 1” fast! Last year he started to get back into racing and had two days before this race, moved back up to cat 1 again (after being called a sandbagger, which is another story). Nothing like a little bit of brotherly competition. This race was going to determine who mom loved best!!! Just kidding of course…
RACE: It was a little bit of a messy start w/ some deep sand in the fire road, and required some negotiations. So I lost track of how the field was getting split. My bro set a high pace (for me) right from the gate, and my goal became to try to stick to him as long as I could. I did initially lose some ground but was able to catch up to him once we hit some single track which bottled necked the whole field. At the end of the first lap, we switching places several times, and I eventually stayed up front and started to develop a tiny gap.
Lap three was a real suffer fest trying to unsuccessfully keep these two guys at bay. I’d create a small gap but then somehow they would be right back on my ass. We yo-yoed like this through the lap and the same one passed me again toward the end of the lap. By the end of the third lap, I felt like I had burned all my matches, had nothing left, and had no idea how I was going to survive the last lap. The answer came in the format of little Gu packets w/ extra caffeine. Three of them in one lap!
On the long steady climb of the start/ finish area, I caught back up, passed, create a gap and finally thought they were gone. Of course they were not, but they were also not catching up to me and the gap I had created, which looked like it was 15 seconds was sticking. Then out of now where, with less than a 1/4 of the last lap left, the other guy, that had not yet passed me, passed me like I was standing still. I had nothing left and could not come up w/ the power needed to try to stick to him, so he disappeared. PO-ed, my goal was do anything it took to keep the other guy off my wheel and not get passed by him too. Losing two spots w/ less than a mile left was not something I wanted to regret and second guess myself about! Yet, at about 300 yards before the finish where this steep short hill is, as I came around the corner, I saw the guy who passed me struggling up midway through. This gave me a boost and by the time I crested the top, I had his rear wheel. I stayed right on his wheel as we came to the finish area, which was a short hill w/ a left turn. As we powered the hill, I cut to the inside and was able to somehow find another match to burn and beat him in the sprint. My brother came in 2 mins behind.
I ended up finishing 17th out of 26. Not very exiting results, or anything to write a lengthy race report about, but I was quite happy w/ my performance. Specifically, I was glad I did not crap out on the fourth lap like I felt I was going to. My race time was 1 hour 47 mins, and it was balls to the wall the whole race, and I can honestly look back and say I gave it all I had.