After the first checkpoint I couldn't hold the first group and started sliding back. Craig was riding strong, we crossed the rivers without dismounting, then started the first big climb. It took a lot out of me, after that was totally looking forward to the downhill - did my best to avoid the brakes. We cruised along, but on the gravel road I had a hard time keeping up to Craig, who's now known as the "c-train" when I'm working to stay in the draft, I had a tough time making the power over the tops of hills, felt lots of cumulative fatigue. The section between checkpoints 1 and 2 was hard, I was suffering to move along, sort of dreaded the upcoming climb.
I got the guy at checkpoint 2 to dig out a full banana for me instead of a sliced one. Was worried about trying to stay with ClimbingCraig for the next hour. Somehow that whole banana fired me up for the hike a bike and climb, so we passed a bunch of teams right away and kept going hard right to the top. Felt good. We survived the downhill, no dabbing or wipeouts. I did have 2 butterflies go into my helmet on the way down, I tried to shake them out while riding but it didn't work... was hoping to make it to the gravel so I could go no-hands and take my helmet off, but they were crawling on my head which I couldn't take... so I had to stop to let them out.
Craig hammered out the last few km, we finished early enough to do some serious R&R, hit the pool and all of that good stuff. Traded my helmet as collateral for 2 burgers and 2 greek salads, sweet.
Pat and Geoff finished fifth I think, had a solid but slightly more tired day. Mical rode again (good news) in middle ring (bad news), front shifter pod was toast.