July 16, 2007
Carter's Lake Classic, 1 week late
I've been a little busy. Being the controller of a company whose year-end is June 30, right in the thick of race season, makes for a very hectic July.
After the Mohican I took a week off, logged 3 weeks of big hours and took a rest week. This GSC race was in Ellijay at the end of that rest week. The itch had to be scratched, so Lauren, Fontana and I piled into the car and headed north Friday afternoon. I wasn't looking for much, just a good hard effort. Carter's Lake wouldn't disappoint. It's one of those courses that causes people to stay home because it's so tough.
I raced pro/senior expert. It was a small turnout, but there were a couple of pro/semis there who would make things interesting. The first half-mile was pavement with a couple of short climbs to shake things up. The start was surprisingly mellow, with all of us drafting behind the guy who was unlucky enough to get up front. Charlie Pendry shot into the singletrack ahead of everybody else and one other rider followed. We all went in behind the conductor of the road train, but he soon faded and we relegated him to caboose. Peter Joski was leading us now, with me and Nathan Wyatt right behind. Nathan shortly came around both of us. Peter stayed with him for a bit, but started to fall off the pace. I went around Peter and bridged up to Nathan. I stayed behind him until we hit a steep pitch and made my move. I opened up a small gap, but they stayed close.
At the end of the first lap I caught one of the guys who got away early. Apparently he crashed and was hurting, just looking to finish the lap and drop out. That put me in 2nd place and I'd stay there until this race's defining moment.
Nathan wouldn't go away. I would drop him on the climbs, but he would always bridge back up on the flats and downhills. After the first easy 1.5 miles of the last lap, he was right there. I was still gapping him on the climbs and felt pretty good about keeping him behind me, but I probably started pushing it on the downhills a bit more. This proved to be my downfall. I was in a section of rollers before the last steep pitch, barely 1 mile from the finish. I just had to get through that section and up the climb, then it was tight twisty stuff to the finish. I hit a rock just right on a downhill, putting a nice gash in my rear tire and flatting it instantly. I was so close that I decided to run/ride it out instead of putting a tube in.
That was fun. I was already managing cramps and now had to run up all the climbs. By the end of the race my right quad was so cramped up I couldn't push my cleat into my pedal. The good news is that only 2 guys caught me, leaving me with a still-respectable 4th place finish. In the end, I got just what I went for: A good hard effort that can't be duplicated without a start gun going off.