Saturday was the Maskenthine XC Classic in Stanton and the 6th race in the Psycowpath series. I was looking forward to this race the first 2 times it was scheduled and then postponed due to rain. I like this course and it suits me and my riding style pretty well so I was hoping to have a good day on the bike.
I got up to the course fairly early after the 2 hour drive cause Teammates Ryan and Paul were racing earlier. Ryan in the Marathon race and Paul in the Cat 3 race. I like getting to the events early cause it gives me plenty of time to get out and take my time getting ready and gives me plenty of time to do an easy preride of the course.
After Paul and Ryan got sent off I changed and headed out for the preride. I felt good riding the course and remembered it pretty well since this was the 3rd time I had raced it. Last year it was the first race of the season and the long climbs were putting a bit of a hurt on me.
When it was time for me to go I got a good spot right in the front and was feeling pretty comfortable and not nervous like I usually am. When they gun went off and I took my first couple of hard pedal strokes I felt my quads just lock up and thought to myself that this might be a rough race. As we went up the gravel road before entering the singletrack I got my legs loosened back up and worked my way up to the front of the group and entered the singletrack in 4th position.
Right after we got into the singletrack we head down a hill and then dump into the most technical section of the course. When I hit this I was just all over the place flailing around on the bike like an idiot and almost crashing and running off the course on a couple of sections and not getting into the right gear on the small climbs I was not hanging on very well. After we pulled out of the technical section I was able to re close the gap on the 3rd place rider and eventually would make it around him but I knew he was a strong rider and he stayed with me not giving me a lot of room as I was trying to gap him some. As I continued on through the course I could not go through any of the switchbacks with any sort of speed. It seemed like everyone I hit I had to come to a stop to get through them. I was also just struggling with myself and having trouble pushing the pace. I lost sight of the 2 leaders who were riding really strong. Towards the end of the lap I was struggling and out of nowhere I heard "left side" and a rider came blowing past me. I was able to grab his wheel for a second but couldn't hold him and he got away but it pushed me enough that I was really trying to close the quick gap he created.
As we got into the second lap I got a good bottle change from Paul (who is not only the best mechanic around but also a great pit man) and then barely made it through the technical section again and by this time the 5th place rider was back on my wheel and I thought he was going to get around me. I didn't feel like it but I made myself stick to my plan that has been working lately and I forced a gel down my throat and continued to work on holding off the 5th place rider. After a little while I started to feel a bit better and about half way through the lap on a big long climb I closed the gap and was able to pass the 3rd place rider. After that I really tried and layed it down and put some distance between me and him.
After the start of the third and final lap I got another bottle from Paul and this time I hit the technical section perfectly and was really pushing the pace. On the big climb halfway through I had some motivation of seeing a rider who regularly kicked my ass last year who know races in cat 1 struggling and I was able to pass and drop him on the climb. After that I decided to not really try to push quite as hard since I knew I wasn't going to catch the leaders at this point but I was afraid I would make a mistake since I wasn't feeling exactly comfortable on the bike and just try to finish off the race and hold my position without crashing.
When I came across the line I finished in third and was content with my finish after the way it had started for me. This race did make me realize that I still need to work on my technical riding abilities. They aren't where they need to be. Later.