Prior to the race I had been sick with a nasty cold for almost two weeks. (I'm just now getting it out of my system altogether almost a month after it started.) I felt pretty good though, had the bikes dialed in (including fresh metallic pads on the disc bike), and liked my chances in the mud. At the start I pushed forward too much and the rear wheel spun in the mud. I picked a good line though and was 4th wheel going into the first corner.
After a 1/4 lap it was Chad, Al, and me with a little gap. Al slid out in a corner and I let him get up and back bike on his bike before we headed up the greasy hill. It didn't take long for him to get back on Chad's wheel and pass him, but I was slower on the hill. And that was it. The rest of race we stayed in that order.
At one point, Andy, who was behind me 10-20 seconds said I could ease up because he wasn't going to catch me. So the last lap I did back off a little, only to see that with a 1/4 lap left Andy was trying to catch me! I had to hustle a bit for the last 200 meters just to make sure he wasn't close enough to be in contention.
Check Out Eric's view of the race.
This was my first time making it to Madison for this race. And true to Wisconsin weather, it was a 180 from the previous week. Windchill had us in the low teens for temp and the ground was frozen. Accept where the sun was beating down and the previous races made the corners nice and greasy. I don't really know of anyone that has this course as their favorite, but I know more than a handful who don't like it. Mainly because a giant hill is the center feature and we went up it 4 times per lap. I don't think the hill is really what makes it hard for people though. It is the technical difficulty of the race. There is very little flow in the course. Almost none really. So riders can't really get faster with each lap as they learn the course. If I do this race again, it will be to support the team (Magnus) for putting the race together.
That being said., I had a horrible start and let a bunch of guys get in front of me before the first climb. I took a cruddy line that was clear of people and passed about 4 guys on the first climb. I did a lot of work and was just off the front 5 when we got to the short, nearly vertical, frozen dirt run-up. I took a reeeeaally bad line up it and almost fell 3 times while numerous guys passed me. I worked hard to get in front of them again our 4th time up the hill. Then, after Eric slid out in a corner, I worked up to 4th but by then the front 3 had a good gap.
I got passed by one guy the second lap (he took 2nd eventually) and then stayed in 5th the rest of the race. I did go down once when I over corrected a turn and let Eric back on my wheel. I thought for sure he was going to pass me the second last lap, but I was able to hold him off. Check out his video below of the first and last laps. You can see me just out of reach for him the whole last lap.
State is the last race on the agenda for me. It's a week and half away and looks like it may be in the 30's with snow on the ground. Should be fun, we have had a wonderful array of cross weather in WI this year!