I started mid pack just to get used to close quarters and working through traffic. After a couple corners I was at the front and paced just fast enough to make people work without over doing it.
Once I reached the road before the first climb I looked back to see a group of about six. Normally, someone is eager to attack here and peg it up the first climb but there were no takers. Until about fifty yards before the turn into the climb someone tried to go by on my left. There was room, but not much and he clipped my bar and almost took me down. Thankfully I pulled out of it! I certainly wasn't expecting that since there was plenty of room to pass elsewhere and, well... it's Granite Bay not a Pro XCT Short Track. But racing is racing no matter where you are, so it was a good reminder for me not to get so comfortable. The guy apologized and yielded the corner to me and we mashed up the climb.
I wasn't feeling very fleet and the lungs felt a little closed off on the top end efforts. I was hoping there wouldn't be any attackers early and thankfully there weren't. So we cruised around at a controlled pace that I got to set.
Lap two was uneventful and I stayed at the front. I backed off the effort a bit whenever we turned into the wind to try and save the legs since nobody else was willing to pull.
We were getting into some heavy traffic and thankfully I was feeling a little better by the third lap climb. I continued to lead and at the top and first corner of the decent I heard the unmistakable sound of a tubeless tire "burp" and resulting crash. Alec Crofoot who was sitting third had crossed up in the corner and went OTB ending his day. So then there were three... continuing to work through traffic. I would push the pace here and there, testing the guys a bit but they hung in there and we were just biding time until the last lap.
It was so close and neither of us knew who'd won. We each wanted to be the winner but were both pretty stoked on how exciting it was. In the end, the RFID timing system picked up his chip first but just barely!
Congrats to Andrew for throwing down a strong last lap. I'm pretty happy that after pulling everyone for three laps I was able to stick with him and make it that close of a finish. I'm pretty sure that was the first time I was in the "attacking" position for a sprint which was cool... I just need to have more confidence!