Its still spring, but the 90 some degree temps with a touch of humidity had me fooled into thinking it was mid August. With the heat beating down, it was going to be a miserable day, but at least it would be miserable for everybody since I don't believe anyone in the Mid-Atlantic spent their winter training in the tropics. It would only take an easy spin to get warmed up before the start and pre-race preparations would emphasize on staying hydrated rather than the usual hour long warm up. On the starting line I was a bit uncertain of the competition. There were some of the usuals; Aaron, Ray, Harlan, Kyle, the twins, and quite a few unknowns, which always makes things a bit interesting. From the gun I missed a pedal as I am still getting used to my stylish road shoes, but as soon as I secured myself to the bike, I darted off to be first into the woods before settling into what would be a pace to be kept for the remainder of the race. On the first lap there were quite a few of us riding together, but as we rolled into the start/finish I was only able to account for myself, Aaron, Harlan, Ray, and one of the twins. Getting away early in the race makes everything else go so much smoother as I am able to concentrate more on riding than chasing down the leaders. The pace remained steady and the lead would change off between myself, Harlan, and Aaron, with none of us really attacking. The three of us continued to pull away from the rest of the field, and Ray was always lingering close behind, almost popping out of nowhere towards the end of each lap. The heat wasn't as unbearable while racing as it was prior to the start, but dropping a bottle on the 3rd lap due to a broken bottle cage wasn't a huge help. So instead of panicking, I pretended as if it didn't happen. I laid off the gas and conserved as much as possible without falling off of Harlan and Aaron's pace. I was so happy to start the fourth lap as we rolled through, and I was presented with a fresh bottle which I would down before the lap was over. Feeling better with some hydration I was ready for the race to begin on the final lap. My legs were burning from the first four, but I felt like I could keep the pace steady for one more round. On the first climb Harlan took off, not taking a feed and Aaron was right behind with me in tow. With the heat, I decided to play it safe and ride steadily through the last lap and attack at the top of the last climb to prevent blowing up midway through the final lap. As Aaron and Harlan disappeared off the front I found myself alone wondering how much energy Ray had left in the tank. I pressed on, constantly looking over my shoulder, only to see noone. Near the top of the last climb I made my attack just as planned but by myself. I was hoping that I would catch Harlan, Aaron, or both of them by the finish, but they had already gained too much ground as I didn't even catch a glimpse of either one as I time trialed to the finish in 3rd. Aaron took the win about 2 minutes up with Harlan in 2nd only 45 seconds up, and Ray was still behind in 4th, about a minute back.
Next weekend, Cat Classic followed by either Michaux or Granogue.... I'll make up my mind soon enough.