The start to this year's racing season has been a little shaky at best and that is being on the optimistic side. I missed the first race of the season, Dragon's Tale, near Roanoke, VA due to a mild knee injury, followed up with a mediocre XC race in Big Bear, WV and then a 14th at the Cohutta 100. It was after this race that I realized it was not just bad luck. It was simply my WORST 100 mile race ever. I missed the lead group at the start, did not have the legs to catch back on, and did not start to make any passes until the second half of the race. I had better results as an endurance newbie shoving oatmeal creampies and cinnamon buns down my throat at aid stations. On the way back from Cohutta I obsessed about the hours that I put in on the bike over the past 6 months and realized that I have been lacking something... the taste of blood in my mouth before being replaced by vomit on my 5th hill repeat, or was it riding to the point of becoming dizzy and lightheaded and so hungry that the last 5 miles of a ride feels like a full century. Although I have been hammering out the miles I feel like I have not been challenged enough recently so Monday morning, two days after climbing 14,000' in TN I delighted myself with some hill repeats and it felt oh so good. I hit it hard for a couple of more days and then went to VA for a 40 mile race at Douthat State Park. I had ridden the trails there before and they are spectacular, so there was no doubt that it would be a good time. From the start I took the holeshot and was out of sight on the first climb. What I did not realize was at the top there must have been some sort of a course marking pointing across the ridgeline with much more significance than the 6 red arrow pointing down the mountain to follow the XC course. After unknowingly going off course I continued on at my endurance race pace for the next hour until I came to an intersection without any course markings at all and finally found my way back to the start/finish area realizing that I had completed a poorly marked XC course and not the 40 mile adventure I had signed up for. This time it was back luck, but sucked a lot less. After a hard week of riding I could feel that my legs were coming back. So here we are a week later and I'm on the starting line of the MASS XC race at French Creek. All of the usual fast guys are there plus a few youngsters that found some real speed since last season. From the beginning I had an excellent start going into the woods in 2nd behind Aaron pushing so hard that I vomited at least 3 times on the first climb making for a wonderful second breakfast. I lost a couple of spots on the second climb and found myself somewhere around 10th. The frustration at this point was off the charts, but I kept on digging deep and worked my way back into 5th riding consistently on every lap. This I was really happy with. Aside from the small setback on the first lap I felt strong and fast throughout the entire race and expect to be throwing down at the front again very soon.