Sunday morning began with a quick breakfast of oatmeal. Then we headed over to Minooka. We arrived at about 8:30, so I could get a pre-ride in before the Juniors began. The course had been closed on Saturday, because it was muddy from several inches of rain the previous week. Upon completing the pre-ride, I rode to a good viewing area to watch the Junior race. The place I went had 4 spots where the course crossed all within about 300 feet of each other. I went from spot to spot to see both the Junior and Citizen race.
After all the Citizen racers went by for their first lap, I went to get some food. For the remainder of the morning, I hung out around the bottom of the hill watching friends come through and finish. At about 12:40, I began my warm-up which lasted until about 1:10. I then checked my tire pressure right before heading over to the start line.
This race I began in about the 4th row. My strategy was to go along the side and pass as many people as possible on the first hill. By the top of the hill, I was in the top 10. I maintained my position throughout the first section of double track. Right before we jumped into the single track, I passed at least 1 more person. I was able to keep up and even passed some people on the first lap. On one of the rock gardens in the second section of single track, I bottomed out my back tire. I was glad that Wheel and Sprocket helped convert me to tubeless last year. If I bottomed out with tubes, I would have had a flat. The remainder of the lap went smoothly with no crashes.
Right after I passed the start/finish area, I began to get a bit confused with the course because I had not pre-ridden that part. I was in the lead of a group and thought that we would be turning right into a section of single track. Instead, we turned left going what would normally be backwards on a section of single track. Then we went to another section of double track which connected to the section of single track onto which I was originally planning on turning left. Once I figured this out, I was able to get back up to speed and hold a fast pace.
As I climbed the start hill on the second lap, I grabbed a handoff from my Grandpa. Throughout the first section of double track, I was able to maintain a good pace. By the time I entered the second section of single track I could tell that my legs were beginning to tire out. I maintained a good pace but did not go too hard coming out of the corners. On one of the sections of double track, there was a long downhill, then a hard-right turn, and a climb back up to the top. On the climb, I was unable to keep up with the group I had been riding with for the previous section of the race. From that point on, my goal was just to maintain a good pace and hold my position.
As I completed the second lap, I was about 1 minute ahead of my competitor. I was able to hold a lead for the entire lap, but the gap closed a bit. On the final double track section, I could see him about 300 feet behind me. I went at about an all-out sprint and finished only 9 seconds ahead. Overall, it was another great race, and I can feel myself getting stronger each week with the help of Coach Nathan’s training.