Photo: Grant Blankenship
A very fun weekend and big thanks to Shey and his family, Adam Jones, OMBA and John Johnson for putting on and running a smooth event.
Even though there was no prize for it, I wanted to win the omnium by doing the TT, STXC and XC races. Also, since all of the aforementioned folks worked hard and devoted time to a weekend of racing, it was important to me to support them by racing both days.
The TT was a 3.5 mile mini-lap with one steep hill and the cool BMX track at the beginning. It was the coolest temperature of the weekend and I railed it doing a 16.43, deciding to use a 34x17 gear. The effort felt good and I wanted to have something left for the STXC which was in the nasty Macon heat at 3:00pm.
The STXC was an open field and I threw on a 34x16 gear for this race and that worked well for me. I ate some dirt in the first corner, crashing on a root and worked my way back up front by the end of the first lap. The STXC course was mostly grass, flat and fast with the BMX course and a nice sand pit as well. We did around 30 minutes and maybe 5 laps(?). After the first lap I was pretty much solo and after I was left wondering what I would have left for the XC race.
The XC field was much more competitive from when I won my SS title 1.5 years ago and the course was tougher as well. Besides the steep hill in the first 2 miles, the last 2 miles were a series of rough climbs, and the whole course had a lot of sand and sandy, sun exposed slopes which radiated the heat back at you.
From the gun I tried to make the pace hard and get separation and soon after the hole shot there were 3-4 of us away.
I prevented another rider from getting up the hill first since I wanted to dictate the pace and by the end of the first lap the heat and pace hammered me. The rider with me (Stephen Ridgeway, winner GSC sport class overall) pulled away on a hill and soon I had to back off and try to get my core temperature back down.
Soon another racer (John Clayton, runner up in GSC expert class overall) passed me followed by another racer. On the second lap I was baked and felt horrible. Coming through the feed and start/finish I got some ice water dousing and going back into the woods on the third lap Shey looked at me in a way that made me feel like the podium was lost. I decided to screw the last lap, dropped my Camelbak and with no fluids, TT the last lap as hard as possible to make the podium.
That is exactly whatI did. I flew around the course in a 32.57 lap time, passing the 3rd placed racer with about 2 miles to go and hammered it all the way to the end. I was pretty upset at myself on that second lap for the mismanagement of the first lap and feeling sorry for myself so I had nothing to lose and they would not know I was trying to make it back.
Besides a comeback in the Marietta CX race a few years ago, this was the hardest I have raced on a bike all out and I was happy with 3rd. The top 2 guys were very strong and I was outclassed. My lap times were ~ 33, 35, 33 and I think I was only 3 minutes down off the lead.
(Last 3 photos by Carl Mesta)
So, the MTB campaign is over with these results...
Snake Gap 17 Mile TT: 1st (course SS record)
2 Ways in 1 Day TT: 1st (course SS record)
Flat Rock GSC Race: 1st
Ft. Yargo GSC Race: 2nd
Ft. Yargo Dirty Spokes 12 hour Relay: 4th
Heritage Park GSC Race: 4th
Clemson SERC Race: 2nd
Macon GSC Race (expert on SS): 5th
GA SS Championships: TT 1st, STXC 1st, XC 3rd
So long MTB...