6:30am Sunday start was the last NUE of 2011 season, and a decisive one for me as I had to place 9th or better and be ahead of Robert Marion at the finish to move me up to 5th overall in the NUE series.
Also at stake was the first place overall for Jeff Schalk and Christian Tanguy so the pace was going to be hot off the start.
And so it was.
On the first climbs, things starting breaking up pretty good and I settled into my pace. I seemed to be having some pretty heavy legs at the start and I was creeping further and further back, but with the humidity in the air and 95 miles to go it was going to be a long race.
So I pedal on and my legs start coming back to me and I am picking off riders here and there. When I was catching them, I wasted no time and rode right by not asking for any help in the effort.
I would catch Robert about 25'ish miles in or so and we would ride together for a bit, but shortly after aid station 2, I would ride away from him and another rider.
Soon after, I would get caught by singlespeed winner Gerry Pflug and we would ride together for a bit up to the short hike a bike.
I would then set off to venture on my own for awhile and also took a pretty good over the bars spill but somehow managed to not get busted up.
I would soon catch back up to Garth and a few others and then got my way back up to Zack. We took turns pulling, but he slowly inched his way away from me around the 5th feed station.
Right before the 6th feed, I see Mike Simonson on the side of the trail right after a sketchy downhill bleeding all over, mostly from his chin. The medic was with him already and told me to go on, but medics were rushing up the hill. Bradon's dad was heading up the trail too and for some reason seeing somebody I knew in the middle of nowhere kind of threw me mentally off and I was not watching the trail and hit a rock full on at full speed, making a small cut in the tire.
Off immediately, I put in a tube and continued on - guesstimating a 3-4 minute loss of time.
Climbing, climbing, climbing and nearing the end, I decided to look back. All I could see was a black jersey and I didn't know if he had caught site of me (I later found out it was Gerry and Garth) so I took off with about 7 miles to go.
With this effort brought cramps, but it also brought into sight another rider in front of me.
Nearing the top, I catch him, but I softpedal so he doesn't hear my freewheel - and 15 feet from catching him, I jump on the pedals.
Two small rises after, the downhill starts into the camping area. I carry a lot of speed and try to focus on not wrecking stupidly. I would wind end up 10th on the day - 1 spot short of taking 5th overall in the series.
Still happy with how the series turned out for me - I had a lot of fun racing "shorter" endurance events this year and I am already looking forward to next years NUE series.