Race two of the Psycowpath series was held at Swanson park in Bellevue this weekend. I would consider Swanson my home race as I know it like the back of my hand. Every root, rock, bump, chunk of rusting metal, all of it, memorized with metronomic timing. I hadn't been expecting much and I was having a hard time getting motivated for what is typically a huge focus on my race calendar. I'd had good success 4 weeks prior at Jewell park with a 4th place but that was a 17 minute effort on a technical flowing course that am very familiar with too. What would a full Cat 1 race bring?
With summer mountain bike races being pushed to "training" status for cyclocross season, my plan was to basically pin it for an hour and then hang on as long as I could. The start didn't quite go as planned as I found myself battling for 8th or 9th wheel entering the singletrack. The initial pace was agonizingly slow as my home track knowledge was being wasted while I was stuck behind the LNK/DSM crew, all exceptional riders mind you, but home track knowledge is home track knowledge. That's what I get for being on a singlespeed.
The first pass of the day happened on one of the option right hand corners, Jesse Petersen missed the inside line and I squeezed by making my way up to John Rokke, the next option left hander I was again able to make the pass on John and by a stroke of luck I found myself right on the tail end of the front group after Shim bobbled a corner and stopped the entire line. By the time the lead group, comprised of Greg Shimonek, Cam Kirkpatrick, Ryan Feagan, Kevin Limpach and myself climbed up to tetanus ridge I could see the massive gap Kent McNeill had on us. How could he be that far up? My plan of going out hard for at least an hour wasn't holding up. I managed to get by Shim on a switchback only to be passed back 100 yards later. There I would sit for the next quarter lap until RF, on a still greasy course, went down snagging Shim too. Shim and I got around pretty quick but Shim's bars had been twisted off center, thinking he would slow and straighten them, I jumped by and set about closing the gap that Kev and Cam had opened up. I made contact by the top of the powerline climb and was relieved to have gotten back on the Cam train so quickly. The depressing part came as we exited the singletrack, Kent was heading back in, clearly 30+ seconds to the good. Through the field I was expecting a pretty hard surge from both Cam and Kev but it never quite materialized. My 36x18 was big enough to move to the front as we entered back into the singletrack. I thought that I had a one in a million chance of catching Kent, so what I'm saying is, there was a chance!
The legs felt good and I had a good tempo. Over the course of the next 3 laps the gap was growing behind but it was growing in front as well. I was effectively in no man's land. Towards the end of lap four I noticed Cam had shed himself of Shim and was beginning to close things down. Lap 5 was going to be tough. I began to make that ever to common mistake of focusing on the race behind, instead of the race in front. After bobbling a few turns I checked my head and went about riding a strong steady tempo. If Cam was going to catch me he'd have to ride faster than me on ever section of the last 4 miles lap.
Tetanus ridge was my make or break point. If I had a good gap at that point I knew I could maintain it on the remaining fast flowing sections of trail. Sure enough, by the finish line, I rolled across 2nd, increasing my gap to Cam by 10 seconds over the last mile or so, 40 seconds clear. Kent rolled in for the big W over 3 minutes off the front. Jesse put in another strong performance coming through after Cam followed by Shim and GB Nate. This result comes as a complete surprise and topping a guy of Cam's quality is a huge achievement in my book. The season continues next week with the Platte River S.P. Battle Royale.
Sunday we went big again, R&R, Bryan and I pounded out 80+ on the road. Tired legs getting stronger. Sushi and a movie, with a side order of compression, yum.