Figured that would happen.
I'm 24 miles into a 45 mile race and the dust that hangs in the air is surely from one (or both) of the guys that had "put the hurt on" on the previous 3 miles of rolling pavement. Currently, I'm in 5th place.
Rewinding an hour and a half to the start of the race is typical of most other races with lots of suffering as riders jockey for position on a fireroad climb before hitting the first section of singletrack. I've done this enough times to know that I'm pushing way too hard way too early. My view of the seven riders up the road ahead of me is akin to watching the Tour De France race on TV. Tall, skinny riders in matching team "kits" turning the pedals in perfect circles with astonishing authority. As I look to my left, I see Karl Decker (pro Giant Factory rider) and realize that if I'm going to have any chance at a decent result, let alone finish this damn thing, I'd better back off my rapidly diminishing power supply.
Back at the 24 mile mark, with dust hanging in the air.... I'm psyched to be off the pavement and back on trail. Although I haven't ridden his trail in a number of years, I do know that my last trip down the Middle Fork Willamette trail was nothing but fun with its tight, twisty, rolling tread. With 20 miles of racing left on the day, I've got myself into a nice solid tempo that I figured I could hold for the remainder of the race.
Moments later, I'd learn that the dust hanging in the air was from not one, but two riders. SCORE!! As I topped out on one of the many rollers on the trail, I was stopped by the two guys, one of whom was perched precariously off the side of the trail on a VERY steep hill side sandwiched between his bike and the thick manzanita bushes that were keeping him from a 30ft fall down to the river. After helping out the guy who's name turned out to be Jeff (from Reno) we were off again. The guys let me go ahead of them (tanx guys!) and I got back to the business of getting back to business.
I'd chase hard for the next hour and a half, but to no avail.... I wasn't going to catch the two guys in front of me without one of them having some sort of problem.
So, at 3 hours and 26 minutes I crossed the finish line. About 4 minutes off the winner and a minute and a half from second place.
Good times man.....good times.