I think is best to write race reports right after the race. As time passes, details are forgotten. Here is the deal with Iron Hill. I went out hard, I pulled away from most of the others pretty easily. I rode tempo a bit when I should have been going harder, I held off the 4th place rider in the hardest part of the course only to let him pass in an easier section, let him get away, realized what was happening, and then took chase and gained a lot of ground between us, but not enough to pass him or even to catch him. I let him escape for about 20 seconds and pulled 12 of those back in the last 1/4 mile. I am pretty sure I could have taken the sprint if I was just smart enough to stay on his wheel when he went by. Push off the podium by the same rider who pushed me off the podium at Granogue.
Tour De Tykes
I was disappointed to be the only Allied Milk rider at this race, other than Seth who did not race but provided moral support out in the woods. Race started on a very long climb and I managed to blow myself up before the top, sat in, and took about two miles to recover. Once I got moving like I knew I could, the course started going downhill and I was left to just ride the brakes on the steep, loose terrain. It went this way until the second loop of the course. I saw fellow rider and friend Mark Sanford up the trail, so I took chase. We were climbing a long climb and it appeared he was in granny (I later found out his shifter cable broke and all he had was granny, although on this course, one could get by with just the little chainring). So I worked my way though a couple riders and got on Mark's wheel. He immediately offered me the chance to pass, but I told him it was me and that I would not pass until I earned it. He let me by anyway and I thanked him. I worked hard to put a gap between us and shortly came up on Tom Snook. I played the same game, passing the riders between us, was offered the chance to pass, and identified myself and told him I would earn the pass. He agreed. I was able to pass him shortly after that, and worked to put a large gap between us, not large enough as I would find out later on. At this point, I was riding pretty good and other riders were falling off the pace. I saw another "V1" on a calf and made chase. We were in the last mile or two of the course and I really tried, but was unable to pass this last rider. I would get close and he would pull away. An Expert rider was between us (they started before us and rode a longer loop). The Expert rider would bobble and allow the V1 Sport rider (another BikeLine rider named Chris Doocey) to gap me. The last 1/2 mile of the course was cruel. The course would head downhill and you would think you were done, then it would turn right back up the mountain. It did this at least four times. I kept my eye on the Bike Line rider (Chris) and would watch as Tom Snook was behind me, but not able to pass me.
We finally came out on the road and I sprinted for all I was worth to the finish line. I should have sprinted a little more, 2 second faster to be exact. You see, the race used a timing mat at the beginning and at the end. Remember in American Flyers when the Russian, David, and 7 Eleven guy were racing along and 7 Eleven guy said "You are in front of me, but I am 10 seconds in front of you?". It was the same with Tom Snook. He had a 10 second cushion on me, because he rolled over the timing mat 10 seconds behind me at the start. Even though I gapped him and fought hard to stay in front, he was awarded the 5th place finish because it took him 2 seconds less to cover the course. There was so many places I could have pulled back those 2 seconds, but I had no idea. Rich Bilson finished on the podium about two minutes up on me, but I do not even think he hung around to get his medal and prize.
The climbs in this race, combined with conversations with Nathan Diebert had me thinking a 26 is a good choice for certain courses. I "think" I would have climbed better with the smaller wheel and the course was technical, but not that technical that I would have needed the 29er. The flatter rolling courses are where 29er is king (not to mention the rocky venues too), but 26 climbs better than a 29er when one is in granny and the course offers 180 degree turns followed by more granny climbs. I was definately taking inventory of my parts after this race, seeing if I had enough to put together a race worthy 26 from the parts I have in the basement. I think I am pretty close.
So even though I have failed to earn one this season, I am still in the game for a podium shot. The guy who keeps me off the podium, Chris Y from D and Q? He finished up in 2nd place at TdT - good for him. I knew he was serious when I was getting dressed and he was warming up on his trainer with his road bike.
I am looking forward to the next races in July. That allows me a good training period to get ready for the races and I have a plan in place. Hopefully by the end of July, I will have the chance to stand on a MASS podium. Racing has been good to me this year and I have some really good finishes, just not quite what I am looking for. Season is not even half over yet though and there are plenty of opportunites for improvement.