Since the initial time I pitched in some trail building hours over a year ago, I had been looking forward to yesterday. Racing on trails like phase I and II of Swope Park is, as you all know, what I like. Nothing about the day disappointed, it was all the fun I had anticipated.
The start of race was back down the road, where the race was yesterday. There had been some new trail cut in, some of which the cross race utilized, to get us back on to the main loop, and somewhat strung out before entering the woods. There were 42 experts taking off together, that just warms my heart, with the likes of Shad, Jeff Winkler, Craig and Scott the trail masters (and my teammates in a few weeks at Moab), Matt Gersib from Lincoln, Tige Lamb, Travis Donn racing his first expert race, among the rest.
I got off in a good position, I hopped around Scott at the first road. Craig was on the front sending the pace up, Shad was on his wheel then I was on Jeff's. We got into the actual trail and Craig was flexing his muscles early. Unfortunately the first decent claimed two rear tires and that was Craig and Scott's. Jeff let me around him up a bit more and I was soon on Shad's wheel. Shad was hurting me bad on all the pedaling, I was recovering in the rockier sections. Towards the end of the lap Shad bobbled at the base of a climb and I went around him. Popping out of the trail and continuing climbing up the road Shad was back on my wheel. I lead around the 2nd lap, Shad was always right there. Starting the third lap he went back around me on the pavement, and I set on his wheel. We were getting into a lot of lapped traffic, which was getting stressful, I never made the opportunity to go back around, looking back I should have tried somewhere before heading into Wudchuk Run, but I really did not have the energy. The highlight came as we started making our way down the final decent, He both boosted over this sweet little jump that I always look at but never fully commit to, Shad did it perfectly and I just mimicked him. We came out onto the road together after the long stair step climb, Shad reved up the pace and when he went into a sprint towards the line I went into a spin towards the line.
It was a great day of racing and I think everyone that was there was stoked. Like I said yesterday, I believe a long grand tradition has just begun.