Karma should have been so on my side today. While pre-riding, I came upon a guy who was finishing out the 4 race with a broken chain. We got to the pits and I said "dude, take my bike for the last half lap, we're at the pit so it's totally legal, walking the rest of this is going to suck, I'll meet you at the finish line." I mean you're walking along on your old bike that's got no chain on it, and some random dude hands you his sweet ass carbon bike, that's a pretty good bit of luck, right?
For the first time since forever, my start sucked. No biggie, I just got down to like somewhere in the teens through the first turns, and was totally fine with it. I moved up a bunch on the power section before the barriers, and was kind of within sniffing distance of the front after that. By the second trip over the bridge, I was sitting toward the back of a 6 man lead group that had a huge gap on people behind, feeling pretty smug about not being the bus driver for once, and starting to plan how I was going to be tremendously smart and feats of strength and all that. Then going down the poop chute - "PFFFFFFFF!" Of shit. Of course the section immediately following the chute is all mud and gravel so I ain't going anywhere, but at least I'm pretty close to the pit.
The pit at Cap Cross is funny, you gotta cross a bridge to get there, so it kind of takes forever, but I get to my wheels, undo my brake, shift to the bottom of the cassette, get the wheel out, new wheel in, tighten skewer, re-do brake, back across the bridge, and we're back in the game. Unfortunately, at this point Matt is leading the lead group through the finish line, about a third of a lap ahead. Whoops.
So I channel my inner Conan - "oh shit, we have to kill ALL THESE PEOPLE" and pedal like a bastard. Never left the big ring. Somehow the bike handling ninjitsu was all there in spades, and I was passing dudes like a mother. At some point late in the game the lead group, which Matt had dropped, was again within sniffing distance. Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough time. I got up to 10th, 1:10 back, which is a pretty good result given the flat (which I have no idea how much time it cost me).
Oh well, well done to Matt. He gets that cursed jersey now. Enjoy it!