Written by Eric Paysen Sunday, 23 April 2006 00:00
The course is a moderately fast 28 miles spread out over 3 laps of mostly singletrack. The start is at the bottom of the final climb to the finish. So, you get to do the toughest climb in the course 4 times as a little bonus. Most racers absolutely hate this climb as it is on a rather wide logging road and it gets hot with full sun exposure. The expert race started at 12:30 and the forecast was for the mid to upper 80's. This was by far the hottest race of the season so far and temperature definitely became a factor. This year in training I have repeatedly attacked this climb and have learned to hate it on another level.
The first lap was in my usual fashion as of late, not great. I struggled to maintain my 7th place position and wasn't feeling especially good about it. By the middle of lap two, roughly an hour into the race, I was starting to build and noticed that the riders in front of me were beginning to tire. I sat in behind two guys through the technical singletrack leading into the big climb at a pace that was definitely on the slow side for me at this point. I took the opportunity to recover a little so that I could put in a strong effort on the big hill. My plan worked out beautifully. I passed both riders, opened up an nice gap before the top of the climb, and entered the familiar home-course singletrack with nothing in front of me to hold me back. I continued to roll fast through the course with all the adrenalin of a fantastic second wind and put forth maximal efforts in the sections that I new would do the most damage to the competition. A third of the way through the final lap I caught a glimpse through the trees of the rider who had bumped me off the podium last year. I was gaining on him steadily and used the home course advantage to quickly close the gap and overtake him. With half a lap left to go I knew he would still be a danger on the final climb so I hammered hard to get the biggest gap possible. I suffered greatly on the last climb and hit my highest heart rate of the race on the steepest section 400 yards from the finish. I wasn't about to get taken from behind again! I rolled through the finish in 4th place with a comfortable gap and very happy to finally get on the podium in an expert AMBC! Fellow teammate Jesse Stevens came down from WV and completed an impressive two laps on a single speed to win the single-speed category. All in all it was a great day for team Bikeman!
Many thanks to all the friends who cheered their heads off to make me go faster. It really helped!
Photos by: Lisa Paysen
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