This was by far my best race performance of my life, just like last year, everything came around in time for provincials.
After a moderate paced lap and 2 quick laps with De Cal on Saturday I was starting to get a good feel for the course. The laps felt crazy short, doing a lap in 23:30 had us thinking sub 20min laps for the big boys for sure. We were staying at End of the Lane B&B about 15min away on Scugog Island, the place was sick. We ended up having the whole house to ourselves and enough food for a good week, too bad we were only there one night.
Sunday morning the weather wasn't too nice, but better than hot and humid. Having the course a little slick helped me out a bit since the tires I have mounted are the Rocket Rons and with tubeless I was able to run about 22 in both tires. We had a massive breakfast and got our minds warmed up with a few games of checkers while we had some coffee. Headed out to the course for 12:30 and got everything ready, big thanks to the Etzl's for letting me use the nut that goes at the end of a quick release, mine must have fallen off somewhere. Got in a good warm up and I wasn't feeling too bad at all.
Got in the pen a little early to get a spot up front, it's amazing how much better your start can be after a good warm up and lining up first or second row. I missed my pedals a couple times on the start but no worries, I made my way up to fourth on the false flat and eventually the lead before the first set of trails. This was the first time I've ever led an o-cup, hopefully not the last. I was feeling really good in the ST but not so much on the climbs, I would lead in the trails and Matt Ellis from esteem would pull up the climbs. We had a good thing going until Zach Tatem came blowing past us on a climb, I knew the only chance I had at beating him was on the climbs and if that's where he was passing me, he was gone. So now it was a race for second, I was just pumped to be in contention for the podium.
Lap 2 I felt awful, a mix of feeling really tired and wanting to puke, Matt and I were still going at it, I knew if I started to feel better I's be able to drop him on one of the climbs because I was able to keep his pace even though I felt like shit. I focused on riding the trails as smooth as possible to save up enough energy to get away. This lap ended up being my slowest.
When lap 3 came around I was feeling great, I pushed myself really hard on the climbs but felt a little gassed in the trails to ride smooth, I dropped Matt a few times but he would make his way back to me and get in front of me before the trails so I couldn't ride away from him. Finally I got that boost of energy I needed, could have been the gel kicking in, and I upped the pace on a climb. "Have a good race" he said and I was off, the rest of the lap I was running on adrenaline since I was able to see the leaders jersey closing in on me.
Fourth lap I was way too pumped to get caught, I was totally drilling myself on the climbs, trying to stay in my big ring and forget about the on-coming cramps and massive pain in my lower back. I was still able to see 3rd in the trails but when we got to a climb I was pulling away, I knew if I could hold my spot through the back to back slow and slick single track sections I would be good. The Morka-Batty-Glassford-Jette train came by me before those sections and I followed their lines for a bit, I stayed really focused and kept upright the whole time without dabbing. I took another look back after the last climb on the doubletrack section to see I had a good enough gap to stay calm and not take any risks on the last section of trail. No other Elites came by me and it was the first time I didn't get passed by the lead juniors, I wanted to bust out a good sprint to the line but my chain is toast and I dropped it twice before saying screw it and just cruising to the line. Man was I happy.
Solid rides De Cal and the new Cadet provincial champ; Etzy. Also, big thanks to those cheering me on, it's really something to look forward to when finishing up every lap and, of course, big thanks to paps for another pro feed. Another one to De Cal for driving up and around both weekends (Elliot Lake report below), too bad he had a crappy co-pilot both times.
I was rewarded with a day off work today for my achievement, I will use it wisely with some stretching and napping. Maybe a short spin if it stops raining later, my lower back is still very sore today, defenitely something to work on in the next 2 weeks I don't race. Looking forward to some long rides to get ready for the marathon champs and Paul's, then it's pretty much cx training and racing until I burn out. School starts in just over 2 weeks, yay.