The Podium: Josh 3rd, James 2nd, Monte for the 2peat!
Saturday was about the most perfect day. 70 degrees, clear blue skies. Perfect day for bike racing. Thing is I wasn't racing on Saturday...I was racing on Sunday.
Sunday was mid-upper 40's, with light rain. Perfect for racing...in a different way.
Earlier in the week I had decided on tires and gearing and resigned myself to not second guess my decision. I even had the chance to swap tires as I had to replace a spoke on my front wheel, but decided to stand by my original choice.
The start was about a mile from where they had us park, which ate into my warm up time, but I figured I had 24 miles to warm up so, it wasn't too much of an issue, and everyone else was in the same position.
The 10 fastest men from last year got a call-up, which was not me, but I managed to get a spot near the front of the rabble (I proudly consider myself rabble).
The count down was sort of odd, "get ready, go!" and we were off. Myself and Jim Brockway were leading the "the best of the rest" as the Pros quickly gap'd us. So far the the conditions were how I expected; wet but firm.
One of the main features of the course is a climb named "Major Mike". It was a little loose, but not too bad. The descent off the back on the other hand was extremely greasy...and I had no front brake!
About 3 miles in and I'm riding a skid steer.
In the gooey, slick singletrack a front brake would have been really nice.
About 5 riders pass me. I'm willingly letting them through; I don't want my condition slowing anyone else down.
In a strange twist, I'm actually using the flat tarmac and fireroads to control my losses.
I'm starting to get the hang of how I have to ride this thing now. 60's Ford Falcon rally style. Gun it on the straights and idle around the corners.
On the second lap I start catching the rider up the road. When I make contact I ask how he's doing and promptly dump it on a gentle corner. There goes a lot of work down the drain.
But as Major Mike looms, I'm on my turf; climbing. I pull him back in and manage to stay in front of him on the mudslide of a descent that follows. It amazing how the conditions can deteriorate after 250 riders pass. I actually catch the next rider up as I dismount and run down a section of the hill.
The first rider I caught has now latched onto me as we wind through the singletrack, I offer to let him pass, but he's not interested.
As we pop out on to a road section, we see another rider 200 meters up. I remember to drink and I set to getting that cadence up.
I think this gives me a gap on the guy I was riding with.
I catch "my carrot" (he was riding an orange Niner). I asking how he's doing. He says he just wants a hot dog.
I'm feeling decent, so I start throwing some coal on the fire, and start to gap him.
I get to a little rock ledge I rode the first lap, and get stuck on it. I'm like a 1/4 crank from making it. I freeze like a deer in the headlights. I'm straddling my top tube and I can't figure out what to do. I hear a bike clank behind and I remember.
There is about a mile of singletrack and maybe 100 meters of fireroad left.
I lead to the fireroad and it's a sprint for the line.
When the mud is cleared from my eyes it turns out I got 12th!
I'm psyched with that.
I don't like to make excuses but listen to me now and believe me later Doug Kennedy (11th place), if I had a front brake...but that's racing.
But speaking of not making excuses. James Harmon got 2nd without a rear brake. He was riding all Fred Flinstone rubbing his leg on his tire to slow down.
I was disappointed that two racers I've raced with had to pull out due to mechanicals; David Wilcox due to brakes, and Jim Brockway FUBAR'd his chainring.
Root 66 riders did exceptionally well too. Monte won, James got 2nd and Josh Wilcox got 3rd.
Rob Stine got 4th and Sean Cavanaugh came in 6th behind nationally sponsored Niner rider Dejay Birch. Not too shabby.
Not only did Darkhorse Cycles treat the riders right with giveaways, raffles, free hot dogs and beer, they also donated a portion of the proceeds to The Humane Society. If you ever have the opportunity to try one of their races I highly recommend it!