Network has been down this morning. Spent some time looking back at my old training logs (can only clean my desk for so long). Was funny to look back and think about how I came to meet some of the guys who have stuck together even tho we all raced against each other for different teams.
I remember seeing Brad Lako's name in the race results back in 2006. We were always within 2 places of each other and I would gauge my day based on how he did even tho I couldn't pick him out of a crowd. Then early 2007 I met him face to face on the trail, second race of the year, The Fort Custer Stampede. I was in 1st and didn't know it because of how the group started. I was nearing the end of my second loop and went down in a corner. As I picked my bike up a guy zoomed past me wearing mostly purple. I didn't think anything of it and took my time getting back on my bike. I eventually caught up with the guy in purple. He was close in sight but the race was almost over and I didn't bother to sprint to the finish. Probably wouldn't have caught him anyway, he beat me by 20 seconds. Plus I hadn't developed that killer instinct yet. We later reffered to it as smelling blood. Only after seeing the results did I realize that the guy who passed me when I went down was the guy who won my class which happened to be none other than Brad Lako. I learned a big lesson in racing that day.....and I knew that Brad had trained in the off season as well and like me had become a podium threat.
That same year, 2007, I was determined to medal at every race. The next race for me was one of my main focuses, The Stony Marathon. I knew I would have a hard time beating Nate Fletcher but I wanted second place and I wanted to beat Brad so bad even tho I didn't even know him. I had trained hard and the lesson I learned earlier at Fort Custer would help keep my focused. I took inventory at the starting line and like always I started a bit slower that the lead group. As I raced I picked off one rider after the other and by the last lap I was confident of my second place. Low and behold tho, the results showed differently. Yes Nate took first, but I took third. What?! Who did I not remember from the starting line? So I look again at the results.....who the hell is this Jason Melecosky guy and where did he come from? I don't remember seeing his name anywhere else on results sheets. And he just kicked my ass by over 3 minutes..
After posting a second and third I was determined to keep my top 3 status at my next race, Ruby. Again it would be difficult to beat Nate but if I had any chance it would be Ruby because that course fit my riding style very well. On the first lap I was in a 3 man pack trailing the back tire of a Sandbag rider who was following another Sandbag rider. Knowing this was ther home course I figured I should stay on their 6 for a lap and learn something. Plus they were pacing really well and I knew I was sitting in 4th. No Brad or Jason to worry about today so Nate was on my mind the entire race. I eventually passed them and went on to take 2nd, 2 minutes behind Nate, but I took note of the two Sandbag guys because one of them was collecting a lot of points in the overall. Seems this John Osgood charater did two races I skipped and he finished well.
Later that season I raced Maybury and was nervous at the start because two guys who beat me earlier in the year were there...Lako and Melecosky. We had gotten to know each other so jokes were flying at the start but I was a huge ball of nerves. I needed to win the hole shot. But that points chaser Osgood was no where to be found. So in the minutes leading up to the race I thought to myself, I came here to win today but I have to beat two VERY fast guys and make sure I save enough legs and lungs to go up against Osgood tomorrow at Pontiac because I have to beat him in order to place 2nd in the overall.,,,and I know he'll be there. Well the race started and I was able to edge out David Moore to win the hole shot and have a clear path up the climb and into the woods. My whole plan was to go balls out the first lap because if I got out of sight from Jason and Brad that maybe, just maybe they'd lose interest in mounting an attack. When it started to rain I was happier than hell because I knew the pace of the race would slow down due to trail conditions. Took the win, went home to clean my bike and get ready for day 2.
At Pontiac I wasn't surprised to see John Osgood at the line. David Moore was the only guy there from the race the previous day but it was a small crowd so my chance for a back to back win was good. Looking around, I just had to beat Osgood and I was set. Well at the gun this dude in all black motors ahead of the pack and took off like a gazzelle. No worries, I'll catch him when he blows up. One lap down, never saw the guy but I was still ahead of John. Then poof...just like that I drop my chain. WTF, my jump stop was loose and I was not carrying a tool. Put it back on and off I went. A few miles later, poof again. DAMN IT! I was more than half way thru my second loop. I look up and there is Osgood on my 6 attacking. I scramble to untangle my chain that got wedged. I get it back on and now I am in full attack mode. Pressing a hard pace because we have 3 miles left and John was pushing hard to stay in front of me. We were flying thru sections at unsafe speeds with neither one letting down. I was just trying to keep John in sight figuring I would be able to out climb him at the last big set of hills. I would have to, there was no other way to beat him. Running a 1x9 I couldn't out sprint him down the stretch because he has a big ring. Then it happened. Right before the climb my chain jumped again.......GAME OVER. I still managed 3rd but lost my 2nd overall in the series to that John Osgood guy.....by 12 seconds.
Shortly after that John and I got to know each other well and the emails between John, Jason, Brad and I flew all winter long. We all shared training secrets that would help us in the years following...still racing against each other.