Yesterday we decided to get in an early season mountain bike race and it was race #1 of the route 66 series. The forecast was grim, but we never let that stop us. I was in Providence friday night so I met Kev just off the Mass Pike near rt. 146. It was dry for the moment even though it had rained all night. We got to the venue and got our #s and not 30 seconds after we started to kit up it started to rain. It rained steadily all day. We got in a lap for a pre ride before it got too bad and the course looked good. Mostly a fitness course, but getting slicker by the minute. We had 4 guys in the cat-1-40s field, which is pretty amazing in mountain bike races these days. Troy Kimball from Westwood Velo got the hole shot and was kinda drillin it early on. We followed and after hardly any time at all there was no one with us. I was a little surprised, but pleased too. Troy got gapped on the first extended steep climb, and it was just the Missile and me. I led up the climb and then Kev did his thing in the technical stuff. I pretty much rode like a pussy (this has got to stop) and he was gone. The beauty of it was that he is a teammate, but I wanted to be able to ride with him for a little while. I really studied the lines on the first lap and hit the power when I could. At the end of the lap we were completely covered in mud from head to toe and my bike wasn't working too well with the packed up casette. I needed to get rid of my rain cape and I did after a short struggle, and I set out to ride lap 2 much better. I took better lines with more confidence and suddenly I could see Kev again. He was way up there, but I felt really good. I bludgeoned myself on the power sections and got really close, only to watch him float away in the technical sections. Finally I got back up to him and even led for a lot of sections. He asked me if I was gonna slay him then or wait a while with a laugh in his voice, and I said "If you can stay with me through the fitness sections....it's all yours". Truth be told, I had to dig super deep to get back up to him and I was really smoked, but I felt like I'd have enough to ride hard to the end. I rode everything as hard as I could, and Kev just made it look easy following me. We're completely different riders and yet we're able to push each other which is a great buzz. In the end I think I was hurting pretty bad (based on how my legs feel today) and I think my 2nd lap was faster than my 3rd. At the top of the last tough climb before the final technical descent, I looked over my shoulder and Kev was right there. I waved him through and he asked if I was sure. I laughed and said "Positive". Here's the thing. If I was anyone else he would have eaten me up on that descent and won the race anyway. I wasn't really trying to drop him on the fitness sections, although I went as hard as I could. It's so great to race a teammate because we know we're gonna win the race. We don't have to plot and plan against each other. I thought he might pop, but hoped he wouldn't, and in the end he didn't, so why make him do what he was fully capable of doing, which was to smoke me on the last technical section. It was his turn to win anyway! We were completely drenched in mud, and I went straight into the pond for a bike wash and partial body wash. It was cold, but I got changed up quickly. We were very happy to hear from Johnny Mosher (our Corner Cycle teammate) that he took third from Troy and made it a complete sweep of the podium. Add in Gray Eldridge (our 4th rider of the day) in 6th place and it's a pretty impressive showing for the team. The awards were another endurance test, but we won't harp on that. Doing the results and promoting in those kind of conditions must be a tough task and they put on a great race and had a warm tent for all us to hang out in so waiting wasn't too bad. It was a long day, and a good day!
Next week is the world famous Battenkill Roubaix and I would dearly love to improve on my 2nd place finish there last year.