I thought about it all week and decided to head out to Pando for the last race in the MMBA series. As I wrote last week, I figured my slim lead on third place for the year would disappear if the 4th place racer, Calvin Stewart, showed up as his points would eclipse mine with the addition of his 5th race. The series counted your top five races. It was still mathematically possible for me to hold on though if I were to place ahead of him. Not likely since Calvin is definitely faster than me and I got lucky last week when he had chain problems.
My team mate Bernie Wendel also had a shot at third place in his age group but needed to complete his 5th race. The two of us decided to take the drive out to Pando and see what we could do. Although the turnout for the Expert class was low, just before the start of my race I saw my main competition show up. That meant I would have to do everything I could to hang on to his wheel.
At the start three of us opened an early gap and I stayed right on Calvin's wheel. He would pull away slightly on the uphills but I would catch back up in the singletrack and the faster, flatter sections. Half way around I sprinted around him in a flat section leading to some singletrack and stayed in front for the remainder of the first lap. Once we got back to the climb up the ski hill I let him come around, knowing I couldn't hold the pace.
At that point I lost sight of him and settled back to maintain my third place, knowing there was $$ waiting for the top three. Part way through the third lap I was surprised to see Calvin on the side of the trail working to get his chain free. I passed him but we still had 3.5 laps to go. I didn't know how long he would be working on the bike so I kept checking over my shoulder for him to be coming up on me, thinking he would appear at any moment.
On my final lap someone was able to give me an approximate time split between us and I figured I was safe so I cut back a bit to avoid any mistakes that would cost me second place. I ended up coming in about 1.5 minutes ahead of Calvin and I think securing my third place in the series. Plus I won back my entry fee and most of my gas money by taking second at the race.
Bernie ended up taking fourth for the day and beating the person he needed to to finish with a third in the series. He also had a crash that caused the handlebars to take a bite out of his cheek but fortunately he didn't appear too badly hurt other than that . I think he also learned a valuable lesson about what not to do the night before a race.