Day 2 (Day 1 report here and here) of the Addision Retreat Stage Race would be my first chance to race XC with my bike "complete" as intended. Since we spent the night near Auburn Hills, the ride in was short, so I got a few extra minutes of needed sleep.
The day was shaping up to be a warm one. The course was set up to be the "normal" route, and there were no surprises. 4 laps, each about 7 miles.
|Front row (L to R): Dub9, Gonzalez, Lako, Osgood|
The group lined up to start, and the top 5 (overall) from the previous day were called up to the front. I was pretty happy to receive my first call to the front, and chose the inside spot. I did not intend on going for the hole shot, but just sit in and see how things panned out.
|Headed out for lap 1|
Right from the start, the 5 from the day before went out front. Lako was pushing a good pace, with Bonnell second, followed by Osgood, myself and Gonzalez. Shortly after we hit the single track, Bonnell was gone and Lako lead our group, with Osgood and I settling into a rhythm for the rest of the lap.
|Lako still pulling|
Coming around the grassy area, heading out for lap 2, Osgood made a move around Lako and put in a bit of a gap. A short bit onto the trail, I went around Lako and closed the gap to Ozzy's wheel, and stayed there. Big John continued to pull. On the first 2-track/road section I put in an effort to come around him and tried to put in a gap myself. He and Lako stayed right on me for the remainder of the lap. I came in a bit fast on one of the grassy corners and the back tire slid out. It was a somewhat fortunate mistake, as I moved back a place or 2 and wasn't doing the hard work any more.
|Getting going again after untangling from the tape (you can see my handiwork in the background).|
Lap 3 was mostly Osgood and myself. That guy is a machine and just kept chugging away at the miles, and I was working just to hang on. The best part of this lap was that my wife was there to do an unplanned bottle hand off. I didn't need the additional fluids, but since the bottle she had was ice cold, I quickly jettisoned what I had in preparation for the last lap.
It was a good thing too, because unbeknownst to me, Osgood planned on turning the screws on this final lap. Shortly after we got back onto the trail, Osgood got a gap on me. My only recourse was to keep my pace, and try not to blow up. I wanted to negotiate with him, let him know I wasn't trying to pass, and I would be happy with third if he would lighten up a bit. But this wasn't for a 2 day overall, and I was a bit of a threat, plus in the back of my mind, a second place would be nice.
A couple of times this lap (several perhaps), he got out of sight, put a rider between us. I seemed to be able to slowly reel him back in. Unfortunately, as soon as I did, he would look back at me, then take off. I had no recovery, and he played the strategy fantastically. All I wanted was a clean finish at that point.
I put in what effort I had remaining after the paved section, just to not get passed and pushed off the podium. I ended up third place, my first "expert" podium, and only 4 seconds behind Osgood (and ~3 minutes behind Bonnell!). My lap times were pretty consistent, although still losing 30 seconds each lap.
Tailwind had the results a bit speedier that day, and I was able to get me medal and make the trip back home at a decent hour. It was a full weekend of racing, and I learned a lot. I was still yearning for that entirely clean race, but I was getting an idea of what my abilities are/were. There is still plenty of time left in the year.
(Unofficial) 2-day Overall Results: