First off, Why'd I listen to Mike and James and run the Nevegal / Ignitor combo. What a train wreck. Thanks alot guys.:-(
Just kidding; tire combo worked great.
Domarski Farm has been described as a "real" mountain bike race, or a "Man's" race. It's a 10 mile loop of singletrack, rugged fireroads with huge puddles, some nice rocks to give it that New England charm, 3 long hard climbs as well as numerous short sharp ones, water crossings, swamp crossing, and of course some mud bogs.
Before the race I joked with Royce that I was going to try and ride the first short steep hill off the start, only make it halfway up and make everybody else dismount. I could hear the choir of "Effing Singlespeeder" already.
We had a good field again; not the 21 of Putney, but at least 12. Way more than I expected from who preregistered, and being a Holiday weekend.
I was goofing around when they announced the call up so I would be starting in the second row.
Jill gave us an extra detailed count down and we were off.
I found a gap through the front row of riders and got to the first short sharp hill in 2nd or third position. Gray Eldridge was leading and I was relieved when he dismounted and ran the hill. I followed his lead and didn't hold anyone up (no one was cursing me that I could hear). He lead until the first long climb, which is where I made my move.
My gear choice was perfect for that hill. I was standing,as usual, but it was very comfortable. I opened a little daylight between myself and the pack.
Until the climbing ended. Once things started descending I began hearing a rider behind me. He was making up ground on me and quick. It was Mark Gunsalus. He caught and passed me on a fireroad, but I stayed on him and followed him comfortably through he singletrack.
I was feeling good, but I figured I would not press him; maybe if we rode together we could keep a gap on the field.
But once we got to the next fireroad section he began to inch away. I could pull him back in the singletrack, but couldn't spin my perfect gear on the hills fast enough to keep on him on the fireroads.
Then the course funneled onto pavement.
Good bye Mark.
On the two big climbs up the back of the course, I pulled him back in, and when He was gingerly walking/running the planks in the swamp, I just said screw the planks, and ran through the swamp.
This lit a fire in him and he really began pushing down the fireroads and the last paved section.
When I crossed the start/finish, Mark was no longer insight. For that matter other than Rob Stine who DNF'd due the the rock monster in the mud bog, and some back makers, I was in no-man's land.
It was sort of disorienting for me. I kept on feeling I had missed a turn. At one point I actually slowed to almost a stop to try and figure if I was going the right way. It was very reassuring when I'd pickup a back marker, that I was actually on the course.
On the big powerline climb up the back I saw Mark's Fuji jersey near the top. He looked so close, yet, he was about to start descending, and I had a lot of hill left ahead of me. After this climb there just isn't enough vertical for me to do much other than hold my place. Which after some of the nastiest mud bogs in Massachusetts is what I did. I finished second. About 20 minutes faster than last year.
At the bike wash Mark told me he finished 2nd in the Housatonic Hills Road race, and won the KOM, I was super psyched. Feeling a little like Raymond Poulidor, but psyched none the less.
When Matt Domnarski handed me double the prize I was expecting, super, super, psyched!
About that rock monster. Rob Stine and two guys from my group both rode into a mud hole, only to come out with a flat tire. Matt had made a warning about something in a mud hole, but I missed that announcement due to the previously mentioned goofing around.
Kim, Lillian, and Quinn joined me too, I was worried they'd be bored, but had a blast on the zip-line, and in the pond. Kim even read a page or two of her book.
Sorry no pictures; even though I had a captive photographer, the batteries in the camera died.
Finally, major props to Josh Wilcox for finishing "in the money" in the Pro class. Awesome job Josh!