I don't ever consider myself the Hammer, especially compared to how some folks are riding this season. The week coming in wasn't monumental, so I expected to be rested at least.
I got to the park fashionably late, per my usual. Motor Club was already set up, and I just grabbed a spot to prep. I went out for my warm up, and it didn't seem like my legs were responding. I didn't feel bad, but I wasn't firing on all cylinders.
A crowd was gathering at the start line, so I meandered my way to the front row. The course had a tour de grass for a bit in the beginning. I know there were some crashes in this area last year, so at the gun I didn't push to the front, but played conservative and safe through here.
As the course straightened out and headed towards the woods, I moved up to third wheel, with Lako leading and Andy the Rhino second, and Anthony, A-Gon and Osgood behind me. I didn't feel like the pace early was exceptionally fast, but man I felt like I was working hard.
Coming in through the first lap, Lako got caught up in the tape in a turn, so he fell behind. Heading out into the woods for lap two, Anthony jumped to the front, then the Rhino, me, and Alex. The first little climb at the begining of the trail Anthony put in a dig, and I jumped to second wheel. We put some space on the riders behind us, and I worked to hang on.
Halfway (two-thirds, 11/16ths?) through the lap Lako was back on my wheel, and brought Andy with him. Hitting the pavement at the end of the lap, Brad told me to hurry up and close, but I told him to go around. I also urged him to hit the tape barrier even harder this time. Andy went by on the grass loop and heading out for lap 3 I was now in fourth and trying to hang on.
I kept the trio in sight for most of the third lap, but I could not latch back on. Coming through the start finish they were on the way back out, probably 30 seconds up. The last lap I was mostly alone, not giving up, but certainly losing speed. Towards the end of the lap I saw the Rhino through the trees, and quietly hoped I could close in.
At the end, it turned out Lako but in a tremendous effort and split the group up, and crossed the line solo. I eventually crossed the finish, an maintained fourth place.
While I am not upset about reaching the (almost) podium again, I was left wondering what happened. I think I had my nutrition in place, didn't lose any bottles, but my RPE was high and my output was low.
Something like 3 weeks to figure it out. I will spend some time searching the bottom of a bottle, then maybe get on the bike and try to figure out how to not crack and splinter along the trail at Bloomer.
Congrats to Brad on commanding win, Agon, Anthony and Andy for nabbing the podium. Block and Soze of Motor Club getting 3rd and 4th in their races, Max for racing strong, and Brain for completing 200 km of Michigan Mountain Mayhem the week before his first LJ100.
Oh, and another sweet finish by fan favorite M. Ghirardelli!