This is a tough race. It's hilly and fairly technical. Nothing dramatic in the technical department, but just rugged the whole way through. I did this race in 2009 and they've added some more climbing as well as descending that stretched out the lap by 5 or 6 minutes. They did some work on the re-routed sections of the descent and there were a few
major burmed corners. Those were way fun.
The Elite/Pro wave was the biggest I've raced in all year. It looked like 25 to 30 guys at the start. Andrew Freye and Dylan McNicholas were on the line as well as the Rooter, and several others that I didn't know but looked serious. We had 4 laps to do. The gun sounded and we took off like a shot. This is so mental for a hard 2 hour race, but if you don't do it you'll be buried behind too many guys and you'll never even see the front of the race ride away. I got to the front and slowed down a bit hoping everyone would be satisfied with the pace, but Andrew came through pretty hard so I jumped on in 2nd wheel. He went pretty hard up the long climb and I didn't put in any extra when he gapped me slightly, but instead just rode my own rythm and sooner or later I was back on his wheel. This scenario would repeat itself several times. He rode reasonably down the descent and I enjoyed not taking huge risks.
We had Dylan just about catch us near the top of the climb then he had a slight issue on the descent and decided to have a little dirt nap. That would be it for him on the day. He was banged up, but OK. 2 other guys were also close on the climb but at the bottom they were out of sight, although we couldn't see too far back.
The bottom of the descent has the famous Pinnacle Plummet which is a radically steep 100 meter drop from the sky. It's pretty easy to go from 15mph to 40mph in about 2 seconds. Andrew took a bad line at the top and had to grab a big handful of brake and I jumped ahead. I didn't try to push the advantage, but rather just rode my rythm. On the short splinter loop that brings us back to the propper climb I felt my rear tire get a little squishy on a corner. It kept getting worse, but it was pretty gradual. I just kept going because I didn't have a co2 withe me (dumbass).
Near the top of the climb Andrew pulled away a bit and I kinda thought I might not see him again, I was riding in a defensive way, trying not to burp any more air out of the tire. The descent is long and I never saw anyone. When I blasted the plummet at the bottom and curled around the field and headed back into the woods, Andrew was just 20 meters in front of me. Theres a pretty steep climb in the splinter section and I was right behind him again. Then on the same corner where I first felt the squisy tire a lap earlier, I burped out almost all of what was left. Now I was screwed. I was bottoming out on everything and now I was dabbing on simple sections just to try not to ruin my wheel. My plan was to keep rolling as well as I could and ask one of the lappers for a co2 when I ran into them.
Half way up the climb Chris Hamlin came by and passed me for 2nd place. He was cool and said "sorry about the flat". I asked the only person I passed on the climb if she had a co2 and she said "no....sorry". Then the climb goes from fire road to single track, and I got caught from behind again. It was Peter Ostroski. He noticed I had a flat right away and asked if I had anything. I said, "No I'm an idiot, I got nada". He said I have a co2 and I'll give it to you. That was so cool of him. He's never even met me, I'd been ahead of him for over half of the race and now he hands me a co2 with the head on it ready for use. So I can maybe get back up to speed and race him. Thats mountain bike racing for you.....everyone is nice and supportive. I will have co2s from now on and I'll give them to people that are stuck, like I was.
I hopped off at the very top of the climb to re-inflate, so I could just go straight to descending when I got back on. I drilled it for the next lap and a half and was surprised at how much I had left. I thought for sure I'd get a glimpse of someone in front of me. I did lots and lots of times, but it was always an expert rider that I was lapping. I never saw Peter, Chris or Andrew again until the finish line, where I returned Peter's co2 head and thanked him again for saving my whole day. Andrew won, Peter made it up to 2nd, and Chris was 3rd. I finished 4th and Colin was 5th. I was impressed with Colin's ride for sure. Dude's sharpening up them skills, and gettin fit. Good on ya Rooter!
On a side note, my teamate Jamie Tosca made the trip with me, but didn't have his best day. I was talking with Dylan at the finish line for like 15 minutes when I said "Where the hell is James"? Dylan goes "Oh he dropped out, he's over at your car". Doh. I'm sitting there waiting for him all that time and he's chillin in the shade drinking a Pepsi.
So it's Tuesday night and I'm still sore and tired from that damn race. Mountain bike racing is HARD!
Thats it, thanks for reading, JB