Probably my hardest race ever. Had a great weekend prior, getting 4th in Saturday's roadrace and winning the 45's the next day, in a hard roadrace where we were combined with the 35's. While Pizza Man, EMC2, and Ex Postal showed they could ride away from the field, I managed to insert myself with three other 35's into the group chasing them which gave me a nice cushion over the rest of the 45's in the race, and worked me pretty hard.
Late season, legs just never came around during the week, so I was not happy about the additional lap to our 45+ race.
Challenge is one tough mother of a course. A long stretch of horrible pavement dodging water bottles, potholes, and a bunch of BMW motorcycles coming in the opposite direction (the sidecar was surprisingly wide, and fast). Follow this up with 3300 feet of some of the nastiest, hottest, and steep ***** climbs with zero flat in the last 10 miles. Stir in two blind, decreasing radius tight turns entered at speed, and top with an uphill finish. Give the sun and humidity a chance to build, then do it again for 66/6000 total.
Finally garnish with a guy who did a 2:11 and won his class at Mt. Evans, the guy who won Mt. Diablo, the guy who has won half the climbing races this year, the guy who won Mt. Hamilton...
This is Challenge. A tasty stew unless you are sitting in the crock pot.
Attacks started 1/2 way into the first lap, our field was quickly down to 8, or nine as one courageous guy kept fighting back on. I could relate, on the hottest climb I kept getting popped off the group, so dizzy and overheated at one point (after trying to answer the winning attack on the last lap) that I nearly rode off the course. Twice. As I recall I got popped around 5 times total this race. Cowardice, in the form of dread at spending a moment on this course solo, kept me clawing my way back on.
The solo attack stuck, I managed to get back on, and on the last bit of 12% stupidity our chase group fragmented.
There were four of us coming up the finishing hill, with the leader around 15 seconds ahead. Two of the group were teammates, they tried to work us over but we hung, and in what could not under even the most liberal of imaginations be called a sprint, a drop of gas in the tank beat fumes, so I got third. The teammates got 4th and 5th.
Sputtered to a stop, then melted into the hot pavement. That's it for the year for me.