|From Drop Box|
The start was a fast 100 meter section of dirt road that turned off into a little ditch and onto the trail. When the man with the mouth shouted "Go!" I instantaneously forgot how to clip into my pedals. I spent the first minutes of the race desperately trying to get my right foot to perform a simple motion that it had done roughly 5302 times previously.
But when we hit the trail, by some miracle, I was still in a good position. The beginning miles of the race were smooth and flowy, with one deep, black, fetid puddle. Even though the water in that thing was absolutely revolting, it felt rather refreshing to splash through it. I was still passing riders at this point in the race and before long I caught up to Benji Klimas, who was the first SS at that point.
I was riding decently on the smooth stuff, but by the forth mile I could already tell that I was lacking the horse(pony?)power that I usually have. I was struggling when the trail turned uphill, loosing some ground on the flat, and staying in the saddle and bashing into every rock I could find. About 30 minutes in, we hit the only gravel climb on the course, and Benji stared to pull away from me. Then another SS blew by both of us like we were standing still. I hardly ever get passed on climbs. I knew I was in for a tough 2 more hours.
I stuck with Benji through the end of the first 6 mile lap, and for about 3/4 of the first of two 12 mile laps, we traded places back and forth. At one point I attempted to break away from him, but my glorious attack was halted when I hit a logging road and didn't know which way to turn. He went by and we turned down the road, towards some pink flagging. The next descent was ridiculously sloppy in comparison to the rest of the course, but it was nothing compared to what we would soon hit.
At the bottom of the grade, we started an accent to the craziest part of any course I've ever ridden. Moon rocks was nuts. In the most rotten, worm eaten, walnutty kind of way. I consider myself a good rider in slow rocky sections, but there was no way I was going to get through that thing. The slabs of rock were steep, deteriorating limestone, with huge rim swallowing rain ruts every few feet. Given a few hours to work and rework the section, I'm confident that I could have eventually cleared it, but in the race it was just faster to push. So push we did, and even then, the ruts were trying to eat my wheels and feet.
Benji got back on his bike a few seconds before me when we exited the rocks, and before I knew it, he was gone. Then all of a sudden I cracked. My legs felt like lead, and I could hardly make it up the little climbs. To make matters worse, the course after moon rocks was real technical and rocky. I was passed. Then passed again. I was friggin tired.
On the only big decent, I realized that I had made a big boo boo setting up my new fork. All day it felt super soft and power sucking on the uphills, but I just figured that was the name of the game for suspension. But the rocks reminded me that I did not have enough pressure in the damn thing. I was blowing through the travel so quickly that I could have sworn I was riding rigid again. Shite. Another SS passed me.
I rolled through the start area and grabbed a bottle from my friend then I headed out for the last lap. I was really feeling like a piece of dried meat. 2 miles into the lap I heard someone mutter "Ok time to go." Gunner shot by me. I think he was only the second geared guy to go by me. Conveniently, everyone else was a place displacing single speed.
|From Drop Box|
I was by myself when I walked across moon rocks. At this point my concentration was slipping and I was loosing the race state of mind. I climbed up an area that looked alot like Laural Mountain, and was passed by another SS'er who made sure to yell "later!" Thanks for that bro. I rolled down the big rocky downhill again, and I knew 100% for sure that I screwed up putting the pressure in my fork. Another SS went around.
I climbed up the loose gravel hill in 7th place, where 12 miles ago I had been tied for 2nd. It was a little bit disheartening. But the end was near. I saw a rider ahead and I gunned it to pass him. It turned out he was a rather portly sport guy, but I could not have cared less. Behind me I heard someone gaining ground, and I really gave what little I had left to hold him off. And I did. By 15 seconds. The last downhill to the finish had a great little jump, and I gave it a little push to get some massive air. (maybe a foot. or two.) And I was done. Results.
|From Drop Box|
7th SS, 18th out of 56 overall.
I felt like crap for the duration of the race. But I really shouldn't complain, because I was out doing what I love to do for 2 hours and 45 minutes on a fantastic course.
And hell, if I would have raced junior expert I would have won by 14 minutes. I wanted better than a 7th place, but as a guy reminded me while I was packing up the grumbler, at the ripe old age of 18, I'm at least 10 years out from my endurance peak. There's a lot more racing to be done. I'll get there.
|From Drop Box|