I woke up this morning feeling good and it was cold in my house and outside as the thermometer read 39 degrees. I loaded up my car and backed out but did not get far because one of my tires was flat! I wasted 30 minutes changing it and eventually headed out to Monroe. The temperature kept dropping as I got further from the city and by the time I got to Monroe it was around 34 degrees. It was windy too and the ground looked frosted over.
The Monroe venue is always dependable. I think it is free and although it offers little elevation change, it can be manipulated about a hundred ways and this year I think they got it right. In using the lower parking lot, they could use the top one for paved sections and also keep the pavement track around the playground. There is plenty of bumpy grass and two major ditches that are almost unrideable on a 'cross bike. There were also two nicely placed barrier sections that offered no momentum up to them, and a bunch of tricky off-camber sections (one of which I wiped out on in warm-ups, right in front of the officials).
Of the early morning 35+ riders, Brady Rodgers and Brad harper seemed the most dangerous. Gone were Chris Wiley and Dave Irving the ex-pro riders from last week (I'm sure they will be back). Brady is a Cat 1 and Brad is a Cat 3 (I think), and I have ridden against both of them many times.
I tried to make the start as hard as possible and I was able to hit 1170 watts initially and average 970 for 10 seconds which in relection was pretty good. It did not get rid of many riders but I got out in front and soon ended up with Brady, Brad and Jeff Welp (teammate). Jeff went to the front and I thought that he might have a bunch of form so I waited to see what would happen. Soon Brad bolted off the front and opened up a gap but I sat in and waited. Jeff faded a bit and I was able to get up to Brady. Soon we had gapped Brad and I wanted to make it stick so I had to get Brady to stop attacking for a second. Once things calmed down, Brady and I were alone and began to work well together to open up a very large gap.
There were plenty of places on the course to attack another rider. The paved sections were ideal for Brady since he is an excellent road racer. There was one particular section that was uphill and into a head wind that he would gap me about 2 seconds each lap. I thought he would eventually attack me there.We rode together for awhile and Brady missed a turn and almost went through the hard to see course tape. It was pretty funny and I pulled up a bit so he could get back on. I did not want to start anything until we saw how many laps there would be left. So, with 3 laps to go we rode very cautiously and slowed down a bit. Nearing the two to go point, on an uphill barrier section, Brady got over first, looked back and caught me in a momentary lapse of thought. He did not really punch it but he opened up a 15 second gap for the last 2 laps that I did everything except throw up to try to pull back. I had a liberal amount of drool and snot caked on my face on the last 2 laps and I could see him just up ahead but I could not get back.
He eventually won and I came in second, Brad and Jeff finished 3rd and 4th. It was not a bad loss and I really felt that if he had attacked me when I thought he would I could of hung on and sprinted it out with him. I should have not had a brain lapse when I did but I was pretty tired.
Brady later told me that he had done 140 races this year. This was my 7th of the year so in the past two weeks I have been beated by 2 ex-pros and a cat 1 who has done 140 races. I can feel good about that. I also had a nice average power of 299.5 watts which is still pretty good after 4 races.
Next is Marietta where I usually have a good race-hopefully I can do better.
For my efforts today I get a Chimay dubbel, not a triple since I came in second and not first. The "Grand reserve" will have to wait!