Cleats clack as we clip in and sprint off the start line. We're already at the top of Wisp Resort, so after a quick left turn on a dirt road, we start bombing down the mountain.
Travis Saler gets out in front and starts cranking down a loose and rock section of double track. We hit the first single track and I'm in second. I stay a few feet behind him on the rocky single track. I check behind me. We have a pretty decent lead. I can't see anybody back there.
This is perfect. If I can just hold this pace, I might finally be able to beat the Pflug. Travis is starting to pull away, but that's fine. I hit the first gravel and spin fast. This is where the Pflug is going to be faster than me. He's a monster on the gravel. I gotta go.
More single track, then I start the long gravel climb back to the top of the mountain. I'm feeling pretty good as I cross the start finish. One eight mile lap down, two to go.
I rip back down the mountain and hit the single track. I roll around a tight switch back and look down the trail. Balls. There he is.
The Pflug is coming. Shit on my face. I expected this to happen.
Almost every time I race the Plug, I go out hard and put a little time into him off the start. I'm beginning to think that this does nothing but anger him. It's kind of like slapping a bear with a bag of hot dogs, then climbing up a little tree. You might get away for a few minutes, but eventually the bear is going to get pissed and rip down the tree, break your legs, crush you, eat your hot dogs, and poop out the plastic bag they were wrapped in.
And so on the next gravel climb, the Pflug catches me. I stay with him for a while, then my legs don't want to pedal that hard anymore. I cross the line and start the last lap. I'm pretty well crushed. The Pflug spins really fast across the slight downslope, then he's gone.
I ride the rest of the lap in a state of disappointment and digestive discomfort. On the last climb, I hear a nasally voice yell uncle.
Gunnar rides around me. I might let the Pflug beat me, but there is no way in hell I'm going to lose to a man that started racing when bikes had wooden rims and showing a little bit of ankle was considered risqué. I pass him on the next gravel climb, but he sticks right on my wheel.
He goes by me on a grassy section. I draft him on the last section of pavement and wait for a chance to attack. We hit the last little dirt climb and I hit it. I pedal hard and out sprint a man over twice my age. VICTORY!!!
But the Pflug still beat me. Damn that man. I was 2nd in single speed, 4th overall.
However, there is a very simple reason he beat me. After he crossed the line, he went out and did another lap. After I crossed the line, I went and got a shower then ate some cold pizza. But I don't feel bad about it. I was tired and I like pizza.
(photo creds: GWADZILLA's face page. (yes, it is supposed to be in all caps. maybe it's an acronym for something... great wooden armadillo's dandy zebra ickies love lubricious alfalfa.))