A Normal Race To Start…I was running 10th or 11th by end of lap 2 and closing the gap on the guy in front of me. I was closing on him on every climb but couldnâ€™t close all the way. I kept after his wheel but he kept getting away due to better handling skills on the corners and drops.
I really didnâ€™t have a lot of top end speed for the race, which is normal so early in the season. But I was recovering well, so I figured on the last lap I could go all in and move up as far as possible.
Swatted By The Hand Of God
So Iâ€™m just starting the final lap, and on one of short hills and one of the steepest pitches in the race…for some reason thatâ€™s when a pro decides to pass me.
Look, I’m good with the pros passing. They are generally so cool so gracious about it–and they give you heads up when they are coming through–but on this pitch, on that line?
So I get bumped and I lose my chain and pedal because I’m still on the pitch. And I get off and fix it, then get back on, somehow manage to close on my target rider and another pro decides to pass me on on my line on another short steep pitch…
The pro purse was five deep…maybe this guy thought he still was in the running. I don’t know.
So I lose the pedal again time and have to run to the top of the hill.
I go on to lose a pedal two more times on the easy tech sections in the rock garden—because I’m pretty distracted by now and just a bit pissed.
Now I have to work to get back to my target rider, and somehow, I manage to catch and close on him. Again.
I come around a buttonhook corner and my front wheel goes out from under me on some oak leaves (“Florida brown ice”) and I crash.
I get up, dust off, and charge on. After the first quarry drop, I can see my target rider ahead of me on the climb and Iâ€™m making some time back on him because heâ€™s not doing so good at this point.
I drop into my low gear, middle chainring, and the chain goes right into the spokes. Are you kidding me?
Actually my first thought was “Andy Schleck.”
Then, appropos of nothing the chain shoots past the little chainring when I try and fix it and goes into chain suck mode. Fix it I do, but to make matters worse, the crash and now the chain allow four riders to pass me.
The rest of the lap? Well I got the four positions back before the chain went into the spokes again!
The third lap was literally like, as soon as I made that strong effort to close the gap on my target, I was swatted by The Hand Of God right off the course.
You canâ€™t make this stuff up. In 7 seasons of racing I have never put a chain into the spokes. No problems in practice, warm ups, or in the first two laps under the same conditons.
The moral? If God wants you in 15th place, you will be in 15th place!
The Silver Lining
Specialized had a free massage tent set up for the riders after the race. A big shout out to massage therapist Catherine Daas for bringing life back into tired legs!