Last minute I decided to race up in Windham. Its a World Cup event and I was curious to see what goes on at these kinds of events. I figured it would be pretty hectic and it was.
Drove north in the morning with my Dad and arrived in Windham 90 minutes before the 11am start. The course boasts 700' of climbing in 3.2 miles. It basically consists of a climb and a descent. It was a beautiful day but got hot.
My warm-up was pretty good, however I was feeling the efforts from another high volume week and felt tired on my sprints. This isn't good. I warmed up with Sean for 15 minutes or so and he told me this would be his last race of the series. We've been battling for points and he is my closest competitor, with him out, I've won the series. Although I'm very excited about this, its been fun chatting and racing with Sean.
Like most all my races I was late for the start. I battled to get near the front but nobody let me up there. Most of these racers were from NY. I only knew Sean and Hugo. The start was under the full UCI boards and the Jumbo-tron was blasting above us. It was pretty cool. Folks were pounding the side boards, blowing horns, and shaking bells. It felt good and got the racers psyched to blast off.
I started in the 3rd row out of 20+ racers. The pace was slow and as I tried to pass these riders one of them cut me off and we locked bars. I almost slammed into the side walls and went down but I recovered. Unfortunately this put me towards the end of this large field.
The climbing was steep and in full sun. Most of it was on jeep roads. The single track was small ribbons of incipient forest between ski runs and nothing unique. The downhill was fast and steep. Nothing technical but the overall speed made it serious. By the lap point I had recovered into 8th or 9th place.
At this point I realized my best opportunity is to fall into my "endurance" pace and attack at the end of the race when people are really hurting. I managed to keep this pace and not loose any positions for my 2nd lap.
On my 3rd lap I found myself riding behind Hugo. I decided that I would attack the group on the final steep climb. I attacked and passed a lot of riders, there were also a lot of lap traffic at this point and I didn't recognize anyone.
I rode fast on the descent and made a few more final passes and then went full sprint for the finish.
Overall I finished 5th place out of 23, which is my worst performance this season. However, I am happy with this outcome considering my horrible start and a shift in my priorities for racing (xc to endurance). I'm happy I was able to create a strategy when things fell apart and weren't going my way during lap 2 and finish in a better position. This race definitely taught me a few things.