Trip began with a steady two day acclimation, prologue morning arrives, headache is subsiding and almost feel sorta fresh. Plan to keep a good thing going, so continue to slam the water and just deal with having to piss all the damn time. Another liesurely breakfast, then off to the venue! Roll thru the smooth registration, claim my assigned tent and settle in for the week. Comfy digs on a plush ball field, staying in a tent that I don't have to crawl in and out of will be a definite bonus on about day three. Two hours before go time, begin to find that pre race rythmn. Work thru the mental checklist, finetune the on bike kit, pare it down just a bit. Sort out the personal kit, then watch menacing clouds as they crest the western ridge. Everybody retreats to shelter, check the radar and it's moving quick, will hopefully be blown out by my 4ish o'clock start time.

Kit up heavy for the chill post storm air, then shed it by the time we spin ten minutes across town, sun's out. Carter Park is the assigned departe, no pre race chat, so roll to the line when you're up. SS freakers corral in the staging like the beasts we are, damn these dudes look fast. Hang at the start shack and look up the switchbacks that are the first few minutes of effort. Silent goal #1 is set, try to not walk until at least out of sight of the adoring fans. That pitch might a tough match for the 18, only one way to find out I guess. Get the official ski racer finger signal countdown and begin turning that gear. Into the first berm suddenly finding the inspiration to tickle the red. Stay on the gear and hit it for effect, into the next switchback and rail out of it, uh oh. Legs begin to have something to say about the effort, time to settle the fuck down. Jake in front of me is running the same gear, he'll be a good carrot for the next 45 minutes, just don't try to catch him right out of the blocks.

Manage to clear the switchbacks and get into the woods out of sight, take a few steps immediately and look up the trail, red jersey carrot still there, cool. Hit some pitches and ride 'em in the saddle, standing effort will spell trouble for sure. Catch a break w/ a bit of singletrack flow intermission and super surprised to spot my carrot, plus Dicky, plus the dude that caught me all right there within reach. Use the 18 and reel 'em in a bit on this rolleur portion before finding crazed half dressed flower children atop the next pitch. Keep on the pedals for the crowd then hike it a bit with that red line in mind. On, off, on, off, always keep moving forward. Hit a powerline pitch and it's a class action hike up the hill. Nice to spectate JB killing it up the steeps, fuckin' hammering.

Jake the carrot is ohh soooo close, just couldn't catch him. Punch out in 45ish minutes, then work over a set of brake pads on the looooong road down the mtn back to camp, they're gonna need some love in the morning. Post stage/pre week meeting was interesting. Boo'd down the concept of getting aid anywhere on course, someone's gotta be that guy, thanks to Harlan for being a bit more eloquent....everybody plays on the same field, using the same resources made availible by the promotor. Simple enough, right? The popular vote agreed, yippee! Then it was awards for the stage, JB crushed all, w/ a mid 30 minute effort, I think T. Brown was second. In the dumbass class, I somehow slotted into fourth! Super duper stoked on that, guess the work is actually paying off, but frustrating to miss my only realistic podium shot by less than a minute. Damn you Jeff Carter!!!! Tomorrow is some sort of big ride. 42ish mile I'm hearing, should be an interesting day. Curious to see how well these dudes go down the mountain. Sitting a smidge under four minutes off the lead pace, time to start lingering I guess, Chip away, chip away, chip away, and maybe somebody other than me will crack. 'til then.

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