Came into this event with ABSOLUTELY NO expectations or goals. Well, one goal . . . find a wheel in front of me that I could keep pace to and suck it till it ran dry . . . then find another wheel and so on.
I was hoping for a neutral rolling start for a few km's to let the legs warm up, but my hopes were dashed when less that a kilometre in the entire pack hit two short punchy climbs that split the field almost instantaneously. Wasn't a bad thing, as everyone seemed to find their way into a group of riders fitting to their ability level.
I followed my strategic sucking plan and found my way into a good group of riders for the first 15-17 kms or so. At about the same time I passed Andy, who looked to be on good form for the day, just a moment or two after he tore a hole in his tread and without a boot to patch it. As my group passed I noticed Pascal wheeling back to help. I didn't expect to catch them so soon because they seemed to be off the front ahead of me at the start. It gave me a little boost and I pulled away from the half dozen or so riders I was with, bridged a fairly decent gap and got on the end of another pace line.
Pascal must have put the pedal to the metal because not long after he pulled up alongside me and took the lead of my new group. My new goal was to stick with his skinny ass for as long as I could, which didn't turn out to be as long as I would have liked. After the two of us left another group I lost him as he tried to catch a free draft from a semi pulling a trailer (isn't that fuggin illegal?!?! fugging bastard!). Got dropped from him and went looking to suck a wheel. I sat up and let a couple of guys catch me and I got on. It was no day to be riding out in the open by yourself with the gusty, gusty wind.
So, for the rest of the race, up until 73 kms in, I rode with two other riders, sometimes picking up a straggler here and there to help with the work. I was able to keep Pascal in sight on the open straight stretches the entire time which did wonders for my moral. The two guys that I mainly rode with worked really well together using a cyclical pace line moving, each taking turns pulling. Three riders can cover a lot more ground working together than one alone.
As the ride went on I was feeling stronger and stronger with no cramping in site (more on that at another time). Me and one of the guys that I had been riding with started to pull away, or the others began to get weaker, and we got to talking about how many people flatted during the day and how stupid they were. I was feeling very smart with my big fat Grand Bois 30mm tires, cruising along a gravel road (85% of the 85 km loop was gravel) my ride felt incredibly smooth and supple, like I was riding full suspension or something. Then the "thud. thud. thud." started. Fugg me! Flatted. (clicky clicky for the rest of the story)
**Wasn't even going to post anything about the race today, just because I didn't feel like it. I'm tired and need to go to bed, so you get what I typed out on Sunday - which wasn't that spectacular to begin with. Meh. Going to bed. **