Ready, set, go...CRASH, stop...Go again. That's how the expert race started with 2 guys getting tangled up about 25-meters from the start who then blocked the entire back field while they untangled (it was rather comical and we were all laughing about it, including the 2 that crashed). However, it was not so funny that a nice sized group were off the front and completely unaware of the crash behind them. Needless to say by the time I got around the crash there was a huge (and I mean HUGE) gap between me and the group off the front. So here I was chasing a few others that got around the crash just ahead of me and a lead group that I could not even see anymore. Well I red-lined it (bad idea with cold muscles) until I was seeing stars while my legs were screaming in an endless, painful agony. I had thoughts of quitting so the pain would quit, but my ego never let it happen.
I quickly learned the areas of the soft, twisty course where I was fastest and used them to my advantage...I steadily picked off riders in front me while getting faster on the course as the laps sped by. I came through the finish after the required 10-laps all alone with nobody in site front or rear - my eyes just about popped out of my head in disbelief as I signed out in 4th place.
I ran the Pacenti Quasi-Moto 650B tire up front and a Bontrager 26" Revolt (tubeless) in the rear. I was wishing for the beefier Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B up front and a Bontrager Jones ACX in the rear to maintain more speed through the numerous sharp, soft-sandy corners in this course. The tire combo I had on the bike (Quasi-Moto/Revolt) did OK, but both were sliding through the corners which equates to less speed and more effort coming out the corner. Pushing both front and rear tires to their limits and sliding through corners is a good skill to practice (and fun) and that is the attitude I took instead of worrying about it as I raced.