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2012 USAC MTB Marathon Nationals

I came to Bend not expecting too much from myself.  I haven't been myself lately, and my anxiety level has been really high.  It's tough to concentrate like that, and for a 4+ hour race, it's a tall order to do so.  In addition to all that, I hadn't touched my mountain bike in months.

None of that seemed to matter today.  I put it all behind me.  I felt great, rode well, and did my best ever National Championship result: 6th place.

It feels amazing.  I just wanted to finish and I dared not dream of a top-10 placement.

The rest of the crew had pretty good days as well.  Mark and Jeff just squeezed into the top-20 of their respective classes, and Chris (Specialized/Adventures 212) was running in a solid 15th until a cut tire dropped him to 20th.

My race seemed to last forever.  The start was harder than I would have preferred (just about every one is), but I settled in on the first climb and started to feel better.  The descent to Flagline was awesome, and that is when I began to move up in my class.  I knew a lot of people had started at a level they would not be able to sustain, so I simply rode at my own pace and made sure to eat and drink regularly (a special thanks goes out to Chris Graham for doing hand-ups for us).  One by one, the riders began to come back.  I wasn't sure, but I thought I was in the top 10. 

By the time I reached Tiddlywinks, just about everything hurt, including my stomach after the USAC neutral feed handed me a bottle of Gatorade (ick).  I managed the descent without incident, and barely hung on while I climbed Funner to the finish.  Desperate to know where I stood, I asked a checkpoint official where I was.  He simply replied, "Oregon."

When I finished, I had to lay down for a while, the violence of the effort having taken its toll over more than 4 hours.  Once I was told I had come 6th, I went back to the car and had a little cry by myself.  I'm still not sure I believe it.

I didn't know if there would be any photographers out there, so I took some snaps myself:

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Mark's car ready to roll to Wanoga and the race start

 

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Prepping with my pal Brian Gerow

 

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The tail end of the lead group rides under the highway

 

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Somewhere in no-man's land.  I decided I still had enough energy to snap a photo

 

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Exhausted.  Looking and feeling very old

 

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Another amazing Bend sunset with wildfire smoke



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