We line up for the last time. I start back with Peter Kieller of Misfit Psycles and Dicky. “It’s nice of Montana to start back here with us” Peter says.
The beige police suv rolls away and we follow it up the hill. I stay on the edge of the yellow line to get around people. Start is not neutral. I look down at my speedometer and we’re doing 18mph up the hill. It hurts.
The group splits apart as we go up the switchbacks on the road. I’m sitting on Dejay’s wheel. We go down a little hill and the police suv stops. A group that’s five wide tries to funnel into a tiny section of single track.
There’s a pile up in front of the woods. Everybody puts a foot down. I see an opening and cut off a section of the trail to get away.
An endless string of riders form on the trail. It’s a long section of smooth switchbacks. A few guys are getting antsy to pass. Dejay yells at me to push people off the hill and get around them (or something to that effect.)
We’re grinding up the hill slowly. It’s hard to ride someone else’s pass on a single speed. “Where’s the fun part? Fucking Mike Mac said today was the fun day.” I yell. Nobody responds. I grumble.
The trail flattens and I get around some people. Dejay and Mike Melley take off. I spin and tuck to try to catch back up to them. We’re winding through the trees. Now it actually is fun.
They keep the gap on me. We turn down a gravel road. At the bottom I lock up my brake to skid around the sharp right. A gradual hill starts. I keep trying to catch Mike and Dejay.
Now it’s not fun anymore. Ze German is beside me. “ZEEEEEEEE!” She’s screaming now “I HATES ZES ROADS! AHHH!” I try to pedal away from her. But she stays with me. Oh well.
I ride through the aid station on top of the hill. It’s too soon to stop. The hill goes down. I turn onto a section of single track and start ripping. The loose chunks of rock fly out from under my wheels and click clack. The Swiss team is stopped with their bikes in the middle of the trail. They see me coming and try to move.
They get the bikes away just in time. I still go off the trail a little to avoid them. Damn it. Who stops in the middle of the trail during a race? I start the flat section of the Gold Dust loop.
It’s sweet. The trail is smooth and banked in all the right places. I ride my bike up on the walls through the turns. I’m moving quick. I catch Mike right before the end.
We try to latch onto some geared riders, but we fail. I see Dejay’s red jersey off in the distance. We start working up the gradual road to catch him.
15 minutes later I catch up to Dejay. We start working together to drop Mike. We fail. Mike catches up. Mike and Dejay start working together to drop me. They succeed.
I watch Mike and Dejay get smaller up the hill. My ass muscles are burning from peddling in the saddle. I grab a bottle at the aid station and go down the first hill we climbed up.
I tuck down. My calves are cramping from being in the tuck. The road is just mellow enough that I should still pedal occasionally. Mike has a flat. “Need anything?” I yell. I’m already past him when he yells “I’m good” down the road.
The Swiss dudes sprint past me right before a section of single track. They slow way down, then move over to let me pass. A few more sections of fun and buff single track. The last trail is rocky, but I can hear the speaker system. There’s some reggae playing. I make a few tight corners, then almost ride over the edge of a little bridge before crossing the finish.
It was a fast stage. Hugs and high fives all around.
The single speeders get drunk and loud at the awards ceremony. Peter gets extremely loud. It’s hilarious.
We get our “Bad Motherfucker” belt buckles. Thom Parsons sits on some guy’s award and destroys it. Some guy is not happy.
Mike Mac lovingly tells Thom, Doug Jenne and I that we were absolute dicks. I think it was directed mostly at Thom.