Landmine is one of the biggest mtb events in the Northeast. For some it is the only mtb event It was unclear if we'd be competing in this year's because of other exciting events going on in my Lovely's life, Well it was unclear to me, she was adamant that we were.
Because of certain global happenings it was pre-reg only. There were more people signed up in the CAT1 50+ than CAT1 SS class (a lot more!), but being an elevationally challenged course the singlespeed class would be a better. Judging by who was already registered, John Skarupa and Ted Yobaccio, it was quality not quantity.
Race day comes, yadda yadda yadda, drive into the sun
and they line up the CAT1s in two big groups: Pto/Elite and Younguns, then Geezers, Women, and SS. The SS crew slips to the front on the outside. They count us down and we're off.
I grab John's wheel on the perimeter of the field and as we turn to the wide singletrack / narrow doubletrack I use the mechanical advantage of my stupid gear to get to the front.
Age group riders are using their even bigger gears and swarming around me left and right, but for a glorious mile, I'm in the lead. Then John is warmed up enough to spin his tiny gear up to magic speed and begins to float away.
I'm keeping him within 7 or 8 yards (this is a Merican event so we use Imperial Measurement), we get to Prospect Hill the gap begins to close a bit as we are taking shitty lines grinding up past the geared riders. Nearing the top, John slips between a couple riders, spinning his enchanted gear to great effect, quickly growing the gap.
At this point there are still a lot of riders in close proximity, it's hard to know who is in which class. I'm in second and the ol' dorkometer says I'm right where I should be for a XC length race.
Yo-yoing back and forth with geared riders, staying with them when they are keeping a good pace, passing them when Wompy's rocks and roots trip them up.
With the gear I'm running you have to commit to a line and let it run it's course; there is no subtlety to 34x17.
With the next group of riders that surge up to me is Ted who catches and passes me. "Ok, this is fine " I think "I'll hold his wheel for the next 20 miles and sprint him for second"..."and lose because you can't hold a sprint".
We come to a short steep grunt of a hill side by side, at the lip he spins out, yet I maintain traction.
Trying not to squander this opportunity, I put my head down in hopes of getting out of sight. I think I have the bigger gear so every open stretch I try to capitalize.
Maybe it's working?
I'm mostly catching people, so it's hard to tell if people I see behind are coming and going.
About 1:40 in another group comes forward...with a familiar orange helmet; TED!
Fortunately we are just getting to some more rocks which seem to be working for me and I'm in the front, so Ted has to deal with any bad line carnage from those around him.
Ok. 1:40. The last time I did this race it took me about 2:00, the longest it ever took was 2:10ish I think, so I only have :20-:30 to go. I can keep this up for that long, right?
Landmine is one big loop and there are some distinguishing features along the course. I haven't seem some of them yet.
Head down these trails all seem the same to me.
Ok 2:00 is here. The conditions are great, and I think I'm moving along ok so where's the finish?
Powerlines. I know these are near the end, but also there's a good bit past them.
Big irrelevant mound next to the road, now I know this is near the end.
But there is also the last section of singletrack where we catch all the CAT4 and first timers.
Dare a peek behind I see a blue and white jersey, is that Ted?! No just a course marker I hallucinated into Ted.
It's quiet, I'm catching a few, but they seem more like CAT1s who have lost their steam.
Finally there is lightness to the woods, and right before a familiar wooden bridge I pass a woman in long pants; I'm nearing the field!
Burst into the lightness and sling around the big banked corner to the finish line holding on to second.
Looking at the numbers i spent the majority of time in the Danger Zone sometimes pushing to Infinity and Beyond, we won't talk about the Sausagefest. I know this is technical cycling talk, but trust me it's good.
Nicely done Charlie!
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