Derek lined up at the starting line for our first lap. After a long gravel climb to thin the pack, Scott entered the woods ahead of us. It was clear that the course was going to be muddy as the lead racers crossed the far end of the airstrip race venue 1-2 miles into the race with team uniforms that were barely recognizable. At the end of that first lap, Derek had a lead on Scott and all other veteran teams. However, Scott was not far behind, rolling up the cross-over bridge as Derek was exchanging the baton to me.
In the first few miles after I began my lap, I was surprised at how muddy the course was--worse than I had ever ridden it over the past 10 years. But, I was more concerned that Pflug would be effortless rolling by me any minute. In fact, I probably had as much difficulty staying on course due to continuously looking over my shoulder for him as I did with the mud. As luck would have it, I held on to that lead and finished the first lap ahead of him.