Could not have asked for a better day. 21 degrees Celsius sunny and clear. I think it was almost exactly the same kind of day as last year. Got there just after Mike. Morning was a little cooler when we showed up and unpacked. We gave ourselves just over an hour to prepare on-site and a little time to chat.
Mike figured out that after a wheel truing the previous night that a spoke had been overtightened and snapped. We also found a bit of a wobble in my rear wheel. All the while the kids frolicked around in the transition zone asking Mommy if they could stay instead of going shopping.
We had a brief meeting to establish rules/safety/etc... Then 15 minutes to gather our things and head down the dam to the starting line. It was very informal down there we all chatted and no-one crowded the start line except for one of the youth teams that was just raring to go. I checked out a sweet singlespeed from True North Cycles that was also prepping to go. A few more words the 5-4-3-2-1 horn blows...
As usual we establish position up an open hill to spread out the field and then into the singletrack that we would occupy for the next 6 hours except for in the transition zone. I took a different approach this year and decided to get up front early and see if I could hold it instead of working through the field like last year. Not sure if this was the best plan now looking back. I found myself in a group of 3 with two tag teams. I was following as they were regulars here (I thought). The leader took a wrong turn the two of us followed. We rode a ways before realizing that we had already done this section of trails. We found our way back to the trails and I continued to chat with the guy from True North Cycles for most of the lap. We worked through the field and caught up to Mike late in the 1st lap. We went through the timing tent with Mike in first place and me in Second after 1 lap.
At the beginning of Lap 2 I decided I needed to put some distance between Mike and I. I passed him early and worked to try to lose him. He just kept catching up in downhills and I would get away from him on climbs and strait aways. Eventually I realised that it was no longer Mike's click click click rear hub that I was hearing but instead it was the hub of Hugh Black on this beauty of a bike that he had built. We chatted for a couple seconds and I offered him the pass but he was happy with my pace at that moment. The lap was finished in this fashion.
Lap 3 I rode with Hugh's tag team partner again (Unfortunately his name escapes me right now) and we talked about all of the trail systems that were around and the merits of singlespeed. It was nice to take the edge off the race and just ride for a while. I would love to be able to get a custom bike built by these guys one day but don't think it is in the cards anytime soon. Lap 4 Hugh had more gas in the tank than I did and passed me midway through the lap. I did not see them again which I think tells me they were unable to lap me.
The rest of the day was great just riding at my pace and passing here and there when necessary. I was able to make minimal pit-stops and got some great cheering from the sidelines later in the race from my wife and kids. All the while Mike's wife kept pleading for me to slow down. I was trying to push hard and lap Mike so that I knew he was not right behind me but this was not to be. instead every time I heard a loud clicking hub in the woods it was time to increase my speed again an hope it was not him. By the last couple laps I think I must have lost it as the clicking came and went but no riders ever appeared.
My "last lap" was great, I have this odd method of seeing landmarks that I have ridden by all day and mentally crossing them off as the last time I need to complete that today. I did that all the way around the course and when I got back through the timing tent I still had 3 minutes left to start another lap. I was actually surprised at how energetic I was doing a Victory lap before the post race BBQ and Beer. It was kinda odd riding by my landmarks again though.
After the race I walked down and jumped into the lake. Wow did that feel amazing, why did I not do that last year? Then after a quick clean off and clothing change went up and grabbed a Trailhead beer (Thanks Krista). The BBQ was amazing right after the race, big burgers, potato salad, and caesar salad followed by a Birthday cake for the kids. Wellington Brewery provided some Trailhead Lager also but I did not partake as Krista had brought a great mixer pack for Mike and I.
All in all it was a wonderful day with amazing conditions for a ride. 114.55km's later and a first place win did not hurt either!! One lap shy of the first place tag team also.
That's all Ive got for now... I'm out...