I was in wave 3 going off at 9:09. I lined up with my team mate Tony B. He looked at me and told me I was going to roast in what I had on. I took my wind vest off but kept my arm warmers. I gave my wind vest to my wife and rolled up to the line.
I was about 4 rows back from the front but the start is so long it didn't matter. I knew the main thing was just to start and I could move up when I wanted to. We took off at the whistle and headed down the road. We made a left and that's when the elbow bumping started happening. I was a little uncomfortable with my surroundings and didn't want a repeat of the Gaslight Crit so I immediately headed to the front. As we went into the woods a few people missed the turn and I moved up into 2nd position. The guy in front of me was just not pushing so I went I around him. A couple other guys followed suit and then they passed me so I jumped in right behind them. I knew my team mate Tony was behind me not far. I thought this would be perfect to get Tony and I into a lead group and separate from the rest of the field. Tony was one of the riders that missed the turn so he was catching up. I just kept pushing with a couple of other guys. After a few more miles Tony caught up to us. My sunglasses were fogging up really bad so I just took them off and stashed them in my pocket. I paid the price for that later. We started to catch some of the guys from the 2 earlier waves and as we went into some singletrack, Tony had a little better position than I did and started to gap me. His gap grew by the time we got out of the singletrack into another 2 track section. I spent most of the next few miles bridging from group to group just trying to catch back up to my team mate. At some point I finally caught back up to Tony. Unfortunately my GPS device started to lose signal which then caused it to sleep so I don't know exact mileage. From this point on, Tony and I just worked together flawlessly. We traded pulls and just kept bridging. The only issues we encountered were slower riders going into the singletrack sections. Other than that, we had no issues. As we came into the last couple KM's, we hit some traffic. It all funneled down going under the fly over and someone dived in on me. That allowed Tony to get some distance on me. I ended up finishing in 1:58 flat and Tony a few seconds before that.
As I came into the finishing chute I looked back to see I didn't have anyone behind me and no one in front of me that I could catch so I decided to be a little goofy. If you look at the finish line footage on USAC's Youtube page you can see the video of it. Remember how I pulled my sunglasses early in the race? My eyes were fried after the race. My vision was foggy until the next day. Probably wasn't the smartest idea to take my sunglasses off but I needed clear vision.
To my surprise, when the results were posted, I saw my name listed as 2nd. I was pretty shocked and stoked. I've had a horrible year with bad luck left and right. I have some other personal family issues that have been affecting me quite a bit too. So I was extremely happy. The only thing that was strange was that I was ahead of 1st place by 2 minutes at both time checks but then he had somehow beat me by 2 minutes. I didn't think much of it due to the excitement of the situation.
I waited around for the podium presentation. I was called up for my 2nd place. I stood there with my hands up although I'm told I have poor etiquette. The next morning, John Osgood texts me to say that I was actually the winner, not 2nd. I was obviously experiencing some mixed emotions. I was happy that I was the actual winner, but a little upset that I wouldn't get to celebrate as the winner. Sort of an Andy Schleck moment. I immediately contacted Iceman. After a couple of days I recieved confirmation of my victory. I was the winner of my age group at Iceman. A couple days after the confirmation email I received a jersey and an extra check for the difference in winnings. The medal still says 2nd place but that's ok. I know I won and I have the results and I can wear the jersey next year.
Congrat's to all my boys at Iceman. John Osgood, age group win, Joe Seidl on winning singlespeed 39 and under, and Brad Lako for getting on the podium in 2nd and finishing in the top overall for age groups! Very special thanks to Tony Barstuk for working with me. Between Ore to Shore and Iceman, I've realized mountain biking is really where I belong racing bikes especially given all the bad luck I had on the road this year. For 2014 I'll be back full time on the dirt contesting for Tailwind series in Expert 30-39. I'll still do some road races but mostly I'll be on the mountain bike. Maybe a return to Lumberjack? For now back to cross!