Having a full time job makes traveling to these races extremely tough. After work on Friday I left with some friends and headed up to Spartanburg for round 3 of the regionals. We left around 3 p.m. and drove straight through rolling into Spart. at about 12:30am on Saturday. Got a hotel and crashed for the night.
In the morning there was no rush to get to the race course due to incredibly bad weather, cold and rainy. At about noon we showed up to the course and conditions could not have been better. The front had moved through and the rest of the day was sunny and 65 degrees.
The course was about 7.5 miles with moderate climbing, nothing gut wrenching. It was muddy for the first 2 practice laps, but then got better and better. Lines were forming through the mud straights and small berms were created in the corners to make traction perfect. Had a good night sleep and the race was on....
Sunday morning I was the late wave, 11:30 start. Now racing the 30+ category I feel a huge amount of pressure to perform, this put my nerves in high gear. I have not experienced this sensation for a long time. On the starting line there were 31 racers, I have not raced with that many people for years, AWESOME. On the line was Andy Johnson, a former pro from the Atlanta area. I knew he was the guy to beat, so I marked him and the race was off!
I started the first fire road climb about mid pack, with Andy siting in 2nd I knew I had to move up. By the time we started the first decent I was in 6th, now Andy was in 1st. Looking back on the decent, I took too many chances trying to move up, I should have waited to make my move but I guess I was caught up in the moment. At the bottom I was in 3rd going into the single track. I Sat in this position for about 2 miles then moved into 2nd just off Andy's wheel.
I stayed in this position for the 1st and 2nd lap never moving more than 6 feet off his back tire. He made numerous moves to leave me, some of which hurt, but I was able to stay. At the end of the 2nd lap the pace slowed slightly, I recovered and made my move.
The 3rd lap was brutal, I kept the pace high with constant tension on my legs in hopes of cracking him. The finish was single track then a long down hill gravel road with a left bottom turn leading into a fenced home stretch. Andy hung on to my efforts in the single track, drafted me on the gravel road then made his move. Just before the road turned left he sprinted, I sprinted but he got the inside line leading down the fenced finish and won by a wheel.
All in all is was a fun weekend of racing. We loaded the van and I didn't get home to bed until 3:15 Monday morning. Yes I did go to work at 7, it was not fun.
Looking forward to the next SERC. Looks like I am going to do all of them and hopefully pull off an overall.
By the way check out Spoken Chain Magazine online to see some additional articles.