T.J. led into the climb and made an attempt to clean it…I did as well, but riders were off in front of me. We suffered the slow sluggish hike a bike to the top without unlatching anyone in the long run, still 10-15 strong, including my good friend Tyler Gauthier, which was awesome to see!
After seeing this “Misery” hill 3 times now I was convinced it could be done. On the Sunday after the race I rode the course from about the half-way point backwards. The hill had nothing to do with why I rode the course but when I rode down misery I turned right around and cleaned it first try. So, in the future it could be coined “victory hill”… During a race though, well that is a different story…lots of factors thrown in during a race.
From here our lead group crossed this huge bridge going over a beautiful basin. I saw my kids on the bridge cheering and Lindsay was up the road positioned perfect for a great water hand-up. To my surprise some attacks started to fly on the road climb, I was feeling very comfortable and really did not feel any of it as a threat until Mike Phillips went to the front in the Noque Trails. I knew this was the moment as Simonson told Tristan and I to come by as he fell off a wheel. We were descending and people were dropping like flies, yea it was Ludicrous speed fast, trees blurring and all. When Mikey got done, T.J. and one other were still just hanging a few wheel lengths back from me, but Cole and Tristan were a little off the front following Matter and Mikey looked like he was slipping after putting the hammer down for so long. I had to sprint to close the gap and it looked to me like the selection of 4 was made as the other 3 were chasing hard and I knew the overlook climb was coming.
Hit that climb at your limit and anyone ahead with momentum and speed going over it will be out of sight. I was planning on being the aggressor here, but Matter had the same plan and led over. I went to the front and was hoping the group had whittled down to 3, but Cole and Tristan were both there, so I shut it down. From here it was all cat and mouse games and I kept wasting precious energy chasing Matter’s and Tristan’s attacks from the back instead of setting up launches of my own, rookie.... I was feeling amazing here too and I thought I had could pull it off, but cramps started to catch up with me after too many chases and a not so well timed caffeine gel…done with those late race caffeine gels…I put in a dig or two of my own and the cramps just kept growing. We came out into the final 1-2 mile stretch and Tristan tried one more from off the back that I closed down, then Brian went and I stood for a second chase, but was sick of being the only chaser dragging everyone else along, so I immediately sat down to see what the others would do. I figured the others are going to have to chase this one, especially this close, as it was the winning move if no one went for it. Cole responded and I was happy at first as I could draft till my planned jump point, but I soon realized I had burned my last big match chasing all the attacks. My legs seized with one corner to go, I started to soft pedal as there was nothing I could do and semi-sprinted the rest the way for fourth Overall. Find 2011 results here.
It was nothing like last years sprint where we all waited till the last two corners to go. This year it was a huge wind up from 1/4 mile or more out. Way more fun and interesting!
Great result and defended my placing from last year. This is a hard one to win and I am learning you have to be willing to put it all on the line at some point here, taking the big risk of getting chased down, as it is really hard to get out of sight alone on this course. I am still learning that kind of confidence, but I think it only comes with trial, error, and success.
I want to give a huge thanks to Quick Stop Bike Shop , now owned by former WORS regular Phill Ott! I had so much fun hanging out with Phil, Andrew Hanson, and the rest of the guys there Friday night. Huge help with a last minute find of my favorite tire ever! Then getting the bikes all tuned as well! Huge support up there and definitely the go to bike shop in the area for down to earth people and the kind of high quality service you only find with those who love to ride bikes as much as they love to work on them!
Thanks for reading,
Photo Credit: Jon Holcomb, Unleashed Imagery