The night prior to stage one, was cold. Being that my buddy Jeremy and I were not quite prepared to be sitting around in the cool weather, we decided to poach a fire seen blazing in the distance. While sitting around the fire discussing how cold the night was, we were each handed a shot of strawberry moonshine to help us warm up. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't drink... anything. Being in this awkward situation and not wanting to be rude, down the hatch it went and was instantly reminded of why I don't drink.
After warming up a bit, it was time to tuck in for the night. I did so with a burning in my stomach that I hoped would go away by the morning. I had a great night sleep but woke up with an uneasy stomach. Much to my displeasure, my stomach would continue to be unsettled for much of the day. Lucky for me, this did not cause any "issues" while racing other than some discomfort.
As we rolled out of town heading out for stage 1, I led the group into the first 6 mile climb. As I was riding a conservative pace wondering if anyone was going to throw out a challenge, Ron Glowczynski came flying by like I was at a standstill. Game on! As I gave chase, Michael Mihalik decided he wanted to play as well. The rest of the field quickly fell back while Mike and I rode side by side with neither of us giving an inch to the other. As we topped out on the climb, a glance rearward confirmed what we already knew. It would be just the two of us from here on out.
Not knowing anything about Mike, I tried to get a feel of what kind of rider he was. I took notice of his labored breathing on the first climb and also noticed he was on canti-brakes. I quickly came up with a game plan of testing his handling skills on the first rough downhill and following that up with an attack on the next substantial climb. I pushed the pace in the rough stuff around mile 12 and as I came around a sweeping corner, I was inundated with a section of large chunky gravel. My speed was too high and tire pressure too low. Thud... pssst...spray...shit! As I stopped to assess the flat, I could only watch as Mike disappeared in the distance. With the amount of sealant that came spraying out, I decided to not take any chances and proceeded to install a tube and pump it up rock hard. As I was tending to my flat, Ron came by followed shortly thereafter by Gunnar. After a stopped time of 4.5 minutes, I began my chase.
I had hopes of catching Gunnar, then working together to chase down the leader. After 15 minutes of chasing I finally caught Gunnar only to find out he was on a singlespeed.. damn. I continued chasing with Gunnar in tow and that is how we remained as we crossed the line. I was impressed to find out that Mike had finished five minutes ahead of me meaning that I had not cut into his time at all. Ron finished a few minutes ahead of me but was racing in the 40+ category. Fine riding by all.
Day 1 was in the books and it was time to figure out how I was going to make up the five minute deficit in stage 2.
|Stage 1 Podium|
|Photo Cred: Ron G. (Yes he was snapping pics while racing)|
Rolling on borrowed tires, tubed, with very high pressure, it was unlikely that I could push the pace enough on the remaining descents to cause Mike to flat. On top of that, I would rather not win a race in the final few miles due to my competition suffering a mechanical. I agreed that Mike's plan was a good one as we rolled on at a comfortable pace just fast enough to not get caught. It was a different way to end a race but it was welcomed and enjoyable.
Of course, no podium in WV (at least where Gunnar is present) would be complete without a sip of whiskey. Thanks for putting me on the spot Gunnar... my drinking days are over!
|Stage 2 Podium|
|Overall GC Podium|
|Had a great time hanging out with Mike L. and Lexi|
JR Petsko and all of the volunteers did an incredible job putting on this race. Everything went smoothly from check-in to the final podium. The course was marked flawlessly and there were marshals at just about every intersection keeping us safe while passing along encouraging words. I hope to return to this event next year and hope that many others will put it at the top of their list.