I was very nervous going into this race, like all the races in upstate NY, my memories of this race are of me suffering like CRAZY and getting dropped. So I remembered it hurt and I couldn't keep up, and I really didn't want to get popped one lap in this time (or for that matter 2,3,4 so on, I wanted to make it in). The course here is hard, 12km loops with two main climbs, one 1.3km, 6% avg grade climb and another which we refer to as "the wall" 0.6km average grade of 11.5% (steepest section @ 22%). The first climb is all on dirt (mostly very well packed) and the second is paved but has fine sand all over it, you cannot really stand up.
First lap starts with a downhill, then we turn onto the dirt road/climb and are welcomed by what the called "larger rocks" at the start line. Turns out they means that the road had sections where instead of being dirt they used sharp stones stones pave fill in nasty sections. End result being that 3 people got flats immediately (out of a 28 person field), it has slippery and hard to stay upright on the rocks and it felt horrible, but eventually they were over it and we continue up the well packed dirt. The group stayed together, then we rolled along a flat road and climbed the wall, it hurt but I made it up with the group, I think we lost a couple here but not many. This is were I became unhitched last year so I was already past that point (woo hoo!). The we descended back down, past the start/finish and I started to notice my tire felt low. At this point I was wondering if I had done something to the wheel because I felt a thump on every wheel rotation, but I kept riding. If it was broken, well it was already broken! Made it up the longer climb with the group again, but less then half the field made it up this time. Feeling pretty good, we role into "the wall" and I'm starting to come unhitched... I'm fighting, but I lose it.
I start riding with a couple other guys. Come up to a corner, I'm not feeling confident in my wheel so I slow more than he does. We become unhitched, but I catch back up on a descent... then the guy in front of me loses the wheel for no reason. I'm pushing on the way up the climb (dang those rocks feel BIG), and the road feels bumpier than the last two times. (I assumed this was just because I was going slower though.) I get unhitched from these guys, I get caught by the next small group but just sitting behind them is feeling hard. We hit the wall again and I mentally just broke, I'm pushing and pushing and keep going backwards. I'm thinking about all the hard work, and how it isn't helping, how I'm suffering after all this work. Then I hit a rock and I'm like... wait a second. Get off the bike and sure enough: maybe 20psi.
I think I got a slow leak after lap 1, all that wheel feeling stuff was from the tire losing air. Sure enough look at the garmin data first time up the first hill: 275w, 21.2kmh second time: 275w, 20.7kmh. So... half a kmh. I'm not sure how many watts that is but whatever it was it kept on increasing as the tire got flatter. Stupid slow leaks. Instantly all those bad feelings and negative thoughts just went poof. Next time, hopefully no flats and we can see what I can actually do.