So the horn blows and we leave the start line. An unfamiliar pace line again other than Utah Joe. We stay real tite for at least a quarter of the first lap before thinning out. Mike Merrit again takes off into the singletrack to never be seen again??? Its Utah and me rubbing tires and exchanging encouraging words to get a strong pace moving. Within minutes Utah leaves me and I am left to fend for myself. I kept strong and never bobbled. There was no mud and I was on my game. This is my course.
Soon after Mike Ahearn and Martin Kozera were on my tail. This is all just nearing the end of the first lap. Mike and I exchanged positions a few times as I passed for lap one in front of him. We stayed together going into lap 2 and by the time we hit the switchback climb we caught up to Mike Merrit. Now I do not see Kozera behind just Ahearn. We both did not know what to think as we were sure Merrit was far ahead. We both slipped past him and at this point started passing a few others. We kept it clean and called passes. Going into lap 3 Mike started to fall back. It was me and me alone now. I still felt strong and was hydrating well. I pressed on at a hard pace before again seeing Mike behind me and I am on the switchback climb. NOT GOOD. I pressed down on the pedals and did not look back. " Its all downhill from here " I kept saying. As I neared the last few turns I turned around and saw no one. This we all know is a comfortable spot as a racer just minutes before the finish line. Race is done and I meet up with Utah. He got me by a minute. As we chat who crosses behind me ? Kozera and then Ahearn. I finished second place. My first podium this season and for Utah,, his first ever first place as a CAT 1 Expert. Congrats to all.