This year's elite solo field was a bit smaller than last year's but the quality was high with Derek Treadwell, Andy Scott (umm, how am I almost twice his age???) Andy Gould and a couple of unknown to me out-of-staters toeing the line with the other 200-ish solo and team riders.
At the gun, a few team guys shot off the front while the open solo field quickly settled into a quick but comfortable pace that allowed everybody to test out how the days conditions were going to shape up. The group soon sorted itself out and we found a comfy pace for the conditions with Derek Treadwell, Andy Scott, Andy Gould and myself in the lead group.
Fast forward a couple of laps and I was starting to get a bit antsy. Currently, the pace was a bit too comfortable in the single track for my taste but, as usual, Tread (and now Andy Scott as well) would gap me on the long climbs and I would catch back up in the tech. I started thinking that it was time to ramp it up a bit and put them under pressure in the technical bits so maybe they wouldn't have so much energy to get away on the climbs. Sometime, on the third lap, I found myself second wheel behind Tread. He bobbled on a steep, rooty uphill section. I, somehow, managed to stay on my bike so I figured this was as good a time as any to see what damage I could do.
Things went swimmingly for the next 10-ish minutes until the heinous ski trail climb. A climb that Tread can easily put 30 seconds into me and more if he really tried. and, apparently, after my attack last lap, he decided it was time to try...as he and Andy Scott drilled it up the hill leaving myself and Andy Gould in their dust. Well, that's that.
I look angry, it must be because I realized I was only half-way done...
For the next lap, or two, I would catch glimpses of Tread and Andy ahead but never bridged back up until I saw Tread taking a hot piss on the side of the trail and soon after got within a couple of turns of Andy. Game back on.
After his nature break, Tread blasted by me on the next climb but I soon got him in sight again at the end of the lap. Interestingly, he pulled off course at the start/finish (I later found out that in his haste to catch Andy, he crashed in the woods and banged his knee so pulled out of the race). That meant it was just me and the two Andy's duking it out for the podium spots. Andy Scott was again nowhere to be seen and I hadn't seen Andy Gould behind me in some time. Given that we were over 4 hours into the race at this point and it looked like the finishing positions were pretty much set, I went into complacency mode for a lap or two. Complacency is a perfect mode to be in if you want to do well in a race right???
Andy Gould on my tail.