"Hey, Montana, you lost a bottle," says whoever was right behind me.
"Damn, where at?" I say.
"Back at that little log bridge,"
Man. I should go back. I remember how bad Garcon looked last year when he finished with one bottle. He was hardly moving when I passed him. It's just as hot this year. Better go back. I slide off the trail and start running backwards.
Then everything goes to hell. I'm sprinting the wrong way down the tight single track, and about 40 people are riding fast the other way. I see my bottle. Some other guy doesn't. He nails it with his front wheel, goes over the bars. There's a big pile up and some yelling.
I'm still running. The bottle is way farther back than I though. I'm about to hit the front of the train. The first riders come through and shoulder me to the side. I knock someone off the trail. Another rider hits me back. I feel like I'm trying to drive the wrong way on an interstate.
Finally get to the bottle. I bend over to pick it up. I'm causing such a mess that Betsy Shogren yells at me. I stumble back onto my bike and start riding.
One hand off the bars, I try to put the bottle in my back pocket. Then I'm rolling headfirst into the dirt. Shit. Clipped a tree. This is going horribly. Betsy yells at me again. First time I've heard her sound annoyed. Weird.
I get back on again. Get it together dumbass. Now you've got some passing to do. About 30 people went around me while I was fumbling with that stupid bottle. Such a mistake. Being thirsty would have been way better.
Start passing. Everybody is spread out, so now I have to get one rider at a time. Sprint coast. Sprint coast. Sprint coast. Going fast then backing off is killing me. Halfway though the lap I finally catch up to Gnarmire.
Then I catch Jake. "Is Don Powers ahead of you?"
"Yeah, he's riding good,"
He's riding good? Fuck me. Why does he have to ride good today? He'll have to stop to throw up soon. Then I'll catch him. I hope. I'm not in a happy place. So pissed at myself for bumbling that start.
Joey and I go back and forth down the hill a couple times. Then we hit the final section to the finish. I get ready to sprint for it.
"My legs went soft," he says.
Fine by me. I give it one more pedal stroke and coast in ahead of him. Dahn Powers is already standing at the finish.
"DAHN PAHRS RIDE BIKE REAL GOODER THAN YOU!" he shouts. Fuck me.
By the luck of registration, I ended up 2nd SS. Nate won, Dahn was racing Vet on a single speed, and John Proppe was racing expert on a single speed. They were both a few minutes ahead of me. Happily, I won more money than Dahn (4th in Vet).
That's the first time I've gone back for dropped equipment in a race. Won't do it again. I've had near perfect races at Mountwood for the last three years, so I guess I was due to screw up. Still one of my favorite courses though. The folks who work on those trails put some serious time in, and it shows. Everything is perfect flowing bench cut. Fun times. Unless Dahn Pahrs beats you.