I love England-Idlewild. It is one of my favorite local race courses, along with east Fork and Versailles. I typically do well here and I was looking forward to the race. Could I hold onto my lead over Marty in the CORA series? Could I beat my friend and teammate Matt Fox?
Well the race got off to a vicious start. It was fast and people were jockeying for position. I felt pretty good and I was holding the wheel ahead. There were a few crashes and I gained some spots. At some point there was a miscommunication between Marty and I. He thought I wanted to pass so he got over, I thought he wanted me to pass so I tried. Well, my handlebars hit a tree and I went down. Damn! I lost a handful of spots. Then there were more crashes and I gained the spots back, but only after redlining my little engine.
So I got back up to a pretty good position, maybe even a podium. Foxy was on my wheel and we had a couple riders behind in a pretty tight chase group. The first two laps I could "gas it" and create a separation but I noticed something. All the sections where I typically lay down the law and completely own it, I found myself feeling a bit whooped and not 100%. I kept feeling like I was saving myself for the next lap.
Well, Foxy and the others eventually caught up and held my wheel for half a lap. Then it happened. I missed an opportunity to take a drink and a few minutes later I started riding poorly. I was getting tired. I lost one spot. A few minutes later the wheels fell completely off the wagon and Foxy passed and I went backward. I decided to guzzle water no matter how slow I rode and tried to recover. I was to defend my position and I ended up getting fifth.
It was just a bit frustrating to ride a less than stellar race on this course, but unlike past years where I came on strong riding from the back of the field, this year I was feeling the pressure in the front of the race.
I think I have to make sure my nutrition is worked out a bit better in future cross-country races. I changed my nutrition mid-season and I could feel the effects in the last two races.