An early start on Sunday with Dave (Doc) to get a quick look at the new ST, we got there around 8 and so it seemed did a lot of other people. After a quick chat with the other SXC boys (Graham and Wayne) Dave and I headed out for a quick look, 10km later we were back at the Event Center and ready to go.
On the Blue loop I found myself getting stuck in the group with no route to the side to get past and before I had chance to get out a split started to form. I eventually managed to get out and found myself in no mans land between the two groups. They were so close but I was working too hard to try and bridge the gap but it didn't stop me trying.
Onto the Red loop and soon a small group started to form as we followed the wheel of the person in front in the ST. There was no real cohesion within the group and no working together. As we approached the new section we were all together but I was at the back and lost contact with all but two. I managed to keep them in sight through to the end of the red loop and at the start of the yellow but then they disappeared up over the hill. At half way hill, I could seem them in the distance again and also started to gain on another rider, the first for a while. I struggled on up the hill, cursing it all the way and thinking of the hill repeats I've been doing lately. Over the hill and onto the forest waste lands and this just seemed to sap me and I felt like I was slowing. Once on to the gravel road and two users came past me, I thought about latching on but it wasn't possible, they were too strong. 5K out and another rider came along, we exchanged a few words and pretty much road together all the way home and only in about the last 2km did we take it in turns and I was grateful of his wheel just to get me over the final little incline. After that it was full on all the way to the finish.
My legs were pretty much toast after the race but I was pleased to be about 8mins quicker than last year, the gains being evenly split over the red and yellow loops.
Next time I'll make sure I have more than 1 gel for the race, I must have been thinking I was out for a nice Sunday morning cruise and not a hard race. Anyway it was a great day out in the sunshine shooting the breeze with people.