I remember a couple years ago racing my very first World Cup in MSA... I got caught by the tail moto only 3 laps into a 6 lap race. It was muddy, and I was pin-balling around the course... bouncing off trees, roots rocks and euros. I'm not sure I have ever ridden a bike more poorly than that. They ended up making me pull off the side of the course at one point so Absalon could go by... I felt like a dick. Completely out of my element, and incapable of riding at that level. Fast forward a year, and I did it again... this time at U23 world's. It was hot and dry last year, but still I somehow managed to ride like an ass... I still believe I was definitely one of the most fit in that race, but I rock and rolled around, blowing through corners. Bobbling on the technical sections and running through the woods like a wounded cow. I finished 34th, completely disappointed and looking forward to some time off of my bike.
Last weekend, I did it again. The third time is not the charm. Let me start by saying I finished 5th... in a World Cup... not so bad. And my best placing ever. This was hardly my best race though. I lead things out... literally. I was at the front of the race, stringing things out up the first climb. And I lead into the woods... killing the first technical sections... charging at the front. So so so much fun!!! Wowza... but I started going backwards over the next 3 laps. I just couldn't hold it together in the mud. I did some face planting, and lost time. I stalled out over the top of root balls and lost more time. I slipped and slid down the hillside, and and bounced my way haphazardly down the descents. My saddle came loose too! I had to stop in the pit and have Daimo tighten it up... there went another 45 seconds, and a couple places. I never had an issue loosing lots of places... this course was so damn hard that it was a complete race of attrition and things blew up in big ways. No one was riding together it seemed. But that time just made 3rd, 4th and 5th places further up into the woods. I just wasn't able to crawl back into those top 4 spots. I played some leap frog with Konwa, the Milka Bar guy, and one of the Belgians. But it was just a struggle out there... I couldn't make things happen as I wanted them to. The final lap and a half was better... I seemed to pull things together a little and my head got back into it... I think having David Fletcher chasing just a few seconds back helped with the motivation to give'r some go juice. I finished the race with a wave as I crossed the line, but couldn't help thinking about what a miserable job I did of riding my bike when it counted. Or maybe I did a miserable job of not riding my bike when it counted. I think I would have been minutes faster had I just ran the techy sections I continuously flopped and struggled through. Next time I will be a little more calculating in that dept. Its not always faster to ride.
A good ride on sunday and a good long road trip with some bbq on the fourth of July, got my American spirit going again (maybe thats why I don't like french canada... Maybe I just become soft when I'm there...). A few days here in Windham have been stellar, full of rest and some time to check out a little. Its been good but its back to racing mode tomorrow.