The race starts as a mass roll out from downtown on Sonoma St. It's a big knobby tire peloton with a bunch of guys who normally don't ride that closely together. But at the front it's been pretty tidy for the most part. I was hoping for a composed trip down the pavement which would give my legs a chance to work out their issues before having to pin it. I even brought my cell phone because I was going to snap a selfie in the pack! But some young guys decided to try and break away thirty seconds into it and screwed up that plan. Dang. The pace was up immediately and we strung out. My chain skipped and I lost contact with the front group, nobody came around me to pull and a small gap formed. I didn't panic and just reeled them back in slowly until I was back in the draft.
We dove into Howarth Park and the climbing started. The legs weren't there yet and I was hanging on. I had no power on the climbs and the front group of five or six quickly went out of sight. I was pretty bummed but I just hoped it wouldn't take too long for the legs to come around and maybe hope to sneak in on the back end of the podium. My trip down Cobblestone trail felt good. I passed a couple guys and the new Tallboy was loving the descent. I'd be praying for the downhills hoping to make some time up all day long.
I was starting to reel a few people in, but after a short climb and railing another descent, I was fading again on the next big climb up South Berma. Looking back at Strava, I was again a minute off my best time, but I wasn't really loosing ground to the riders around me. In my head, it was a race to the Lawndale DH with the riders I could see. And I managed to catch the two guys in view before the singletrack started and then my race was on. I caught Justin Harrell in a switchback and he pulled over to let me through (thanks!). My glasses were sweat covered and I couldn't see any detail on the heavily shaded trail. But that's probably the reason why I was so fast and PR'd that section. The fun didn't last long enough though and I was climbing the pavement traverse over to Schultz trail for some more rough climbing. Jen and Logan were there cheering for me though!
The beginner course merged back in just after Schultz and I had a little more traffic to deal with on the undulating Ridge trail. Everyone was very courteous and moved over where they could and I kept chuggin'. I could see that I was catching Brian Astell which was motivating. When the trail turned down again I opened it up and let the Tallboy float over the rocks. After a few corners I overtook Brian and charged to the finish.