Scene 2 - The race is off to a quick start and I get into the singletrack in second position. The lead man crashes hard in front of me in the first 200 yards and I slip into 1st.
As soon as the trail ends and the gravel road begins, the plot thickens for yours truly. My lungs are on fire with the usual (yet still somehow unexpected) mid-spring allergies. Therefore the legs are not getting the oxygen needed to keep up with the G man (your eventual race winner) and a host of others that slip by before the next singletrack section begins.
Across a creek and through a few steep switchbacks...blah blah blah. The entire race is a series of twists, turns, grunts, drops, and more turns, and then more turns...a blur of fast, fun racing.
Scene 3 - What stands out for me happened next, at about mile number 2 of 15. BAM! I hit the ground hard. It wasn't a particularly technical section, or an off-camber turn. In fact, I don't have a clue what actually happened. All I know is that I crashed hard, jumped up as fast as I could and tried to get back to race pace. When I looked down at my left leg I got a bit worried. A big scrape/gash was oozing blood. If it was gushing, I would have stopped, but oozing I could handle. And it stung...bad. I never stopped, but tried to take a mental inventory of the rest of my body to make sure nothing else hurt. Nope, just the leg. Cool. I decided that I was going to live and started getting back to the business of finishing this race. I wasn't sure what position that I was in or if I could catch anyone, but I was gonna try.
The shot of adrenaline from the crash made me forget about my searing lungs. They would soon remind me of their less than perfect working order. After about 5 miles or so, I realized that part of my pre-race ritual had been forgotten; the inhaler. And I never bring it with me in my jersey pocket either. Dumb move. Note to self - bring your damn inhaler.
Oh well, you win some, you lose some. At this point I was content just to finish. I knew I would be last and didn't are. The goals for the day were to have fun and to finish, and I could still do both.
Scene 4 - I rolled on up to the finish line hardly able to straighten my left leg. The bleeding stopped along time ago, but the knot at the top of the abrasion had gotten tighter and tighter as the race wore on. I couldn't stand to pedal, and I couldn't muster any power while seated. I guess I was out of options. I could only go about 5 mph for the last three miles. It hurt then and still hurts now, but I'll heal.
Epilog - As it turns out, I didn't do as terrible as I thought. I rolled up to the line in 6th out of 9. There will be better days ahead for me.
The gash will heal and I'll get another crack at this awesome course next year. Perhaps I'll make the trip for the Southern Classic race in June. Maybe I can find what it was that crashed me. My theory is that it was a Bigfoot, or an elf with a blow dart.