Hot, dry, and a pinch of pain

Well Elite Nationals came came, visit this and it was hot, dry(with a few random rain drops from a thunderstorm that was brewing to the south, but it was still 95 degrees and sunny) and a lot of attrition with not a whole lot of finishers.  I’m guessing that this course, awbrey butte circuit, has the highest amount of DNFs for any course ever raced.

I started out at the front, which was helpful given the large field, but after the field was neutralized longer than planned to wait for an unfortunate rider who flatted in the neutral to get his wheel change, I found myself in the middle of the field as it went 40 wide down the wider stretch of road.  When the race started, my advantage of being in the first row at the start dissipated as the accelerating 40 wide pack accelerated into a double file snake, and I found myself in the middle.  Not too big of a deal, because the 100 miles that were to follow would probably destroy any early breaks.   I stayed at the front most of the time, and made sure to be there for critical moments, such as the climbs and the stretch where cross winds can sometimes break up the field.  The Feed zone was pretty crazy, with crashes and everyone dashing for bottles.  I missed the one Jim was handing out for me, but luckily found someone willing to donate a bottle to the just cause of surviving a race in the heat

I hopped in a few breaks that looked promising after about midway through the race, but all my attempts to get away were brought back.  Eventually a few guys made it up the road, but the racing in the pack didn’t change and attacks were still happening.  I think the toughest competitor for everyone was the heat.  On the 5th lap, someone even went so far as to empty the contents of their stomach, some of which got on some of the other riders.  Luckily not me.

By the time we hit the 4th lap, the field was half the size as it was when we started.  I was doing a pretty good job of staying at the front and not getting caught up in any crashes, or any gaps opening, until the 5th lap.  I went into the hill near the back of what was left of the pack, and covering the gaps was becoming increasingly hard as the hill got longer and the gaps became larger.  Pretty soon I was stuck in no mans land looking at a gap that wasn’t getting any smaller.  I kept my pace up hoping they would slow down through the feed, but the gap was too big by the time I got there, and the caravan was just outside of my grasp.  I caught a couple of riders that were in the same situation as me after the feed, and we worked together to try to get up there, but made no progress.  We caught more and more riders until we were a group of about 8.  On the final lap, some of them wanted to hit it hard on the hill.  I was starting to cramp, so I said see ya, and rolled in easy to the finish for a respectable 31st.  Good times.

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