I feel that this race is kinda the start to the mountain biking season for me anyway. Its like the opening memorial bbq that starts the summer off. Anyway, as the previous 3, the course was awesome and the vibe is usual dark horse "out of the park" fun
Something new and really nice was the early packet pickup. Last week Norm and I were able to get our numbers at the shop and not have to run around before the race. This was really nice. Got out of the car, got dressed, got on the bike. Its perfect for someone like me who has severe "cant STFU syndrome"
This will be the first real test for my new carbon MT-056-R2D2-C3P0-XR4TI frame. I have been riding it a bit, but in races, all bets are off. I was hoping it would survive the beating. Plus it would be rolling on my new carbon utah/oishi wheelset. I felt confident on all of this stuff, but until you give it a real bench test, you never know. All set, ready to go...5lbs lighter than my karate monkey I used last year...somehow the hills still hurt though, go figure.
This is a true frank-n-bike. Fork is from lous old cannondale, brakes from my scalpel, cranks from my 09 stumpjumper, among other things. The guesses people had on the frame yesterday were pretty funny. A few people believed me when I said Jay got me a prototype cannondale frame and they didnt have time to paint it
So anyway, the race. Start warming up with norm...we did a couple laps though the first section of ST. Then we head and realize that they already called everyone up and we are in the wayway back. Thankfully the ladies were nice enough to let me get in line with Pearl and my friends....But at the start, we were still pretty far back.
I think about 30 sec into the start I got pegged in the eye with a stone and I said "F this" im out of dust cloud. I started weaving my way though like an ambulance driver. Finally I pull up next to fred and ilya and we sit a few guys off the front. James Harmon was setting the pace. This section is almost comical....we are all at near max speed and pretty just hanging out.
Get to the turn in, look down and we have averaged 19mph thus far...dam, didnt feel that fast. I settled in behind Fred, Ilya behind me. We were probably around 10th or so. My plan was to see if I could just stay with fred for a while at least, then not melt down when he pulls away and drops me.
Fred pulls us though the prolog and then following ST section like a champ. Pace was just perfect. We break out onto the road with the leaders up maybe 50yrds, 3 behind them, then me and Ilya. This was just awesome, its one of those race scenarios you always hope for...In a good spot and with your teammates.
We stayed right together with fred leading the way until the first walk up climb. The 3 guys in front of us all walk...I try to do this, but I cant...I make a light jog and go around these guys and get to the top first. We soon link up again, but now its just me fred and ilya. On the next run up, Sean Cavanaugh rides by me as i walk. Impressive for sure, but I know my back would have exploded if I tried this...not happening. Ilya and I soon track him down and its somewhere around I dont see fred anymore. Which was a bummer because we were having such a good together. But I figured he would be back.
Me sean and Ilya then start working together and pushing each other. Its working so well. Im not feeling that lull that happens sometimes when you're alone and trying to find motivation to kill yourself. We were taking turns leading in different sections... then finally out on new road, Ilya took over and threw down an awesome battenkill like pull at the front. We can still see Roger up ahead and he is now alone, maybe 30sec up or so. This is good for us. We discuss amongst ourselves how absolutely awesome it would be if we could track him down and its really helping us working together to move faster.
Got to the top of scofield on lap one, look down and see that we are ave. 13.9mph at this point...holy hell! On the downhill I lead and try to hold the pace at "tumbling boulder"
Finish lap 1 and sean tells me "we lost your buddy"...I look back and Ilya is gone. Sean think he rolled his tire. This was a bummer, we were working really well together and this would now get much harder. I lead though the rocky ST and out onto the road, look back and Ilya has made it back to us. SWEET!!!
We still see roger and every time we do, we just hit it harder and take turns pulling though sections. Sadly somewhere on the horse trail, sean flats and has to drop out of our group. Now its just Ilya and I. Were pretty sure were doing well...maybe like 7th 8th? No idea though...but top ten for sure. I knew there were guys in front of Roger, but i didnt know how many.
Second time at the walk up...I step off the bike with Ilya and instantly my calfs start cramping as I walk....I had to jog a bit as the walking was not going to work. Ilya soon catches back up and we roll over to Luke. I asked him how we were doing and he comes back with "4th place, roger is 70sec ahead!" HOLY SHIT!!!! The two of us were now totally stoked. Top 5 with probably 30min to go. Probably not going to be able to track down roger, but I WANT that top 5 so there is no way im going to let anyone else catch us. Thus we keep on it. Hit the next walk up and I again have to jog to fight off the cramps. I put a little space on Ilya here, then again with the next short run up.
The remaining ST I switch to my best TT mode, put my head down and grind. Back out to new road for the long stretch to scofield and I hit the climb as hard as I can hoping to maybe get lucky and see roger on the other side of the hill....Nope, he's gone. Hit scofield and just tried to hold the pace until the end....just cant wait to get to the finish line and confirm that I actually did pull off a top 5....because I still cant believe it!
Roll in and Roger greets me with congrats, as do james and josh who finish 1/2. Maddawg looks as stunned as I do and is wondering how he missed the other 12 guys who finished before me lol. He asks for a piss test, but my lawyer tells me to decline. Soon Ilya comes in, followed by Fred....True team effort if there ever was one. Reminded me of the great time I had last year with Bill and Norm at the DH40 and how I wish every race could go like these did.
Very big thanks to Fred, Ilya and Sean. Fred absolutely prevented me from doing anything stupid at the start and helped me settle into a solid pace. Then sean, Ilya and I just kept each other motivated trying to track down roger. It was about as fun as a race gets.
I must also give a special thanks to my mr miyagi, Norm. The "paint the fence" and "sand the floor" stuff might sound silly and mundane sometimes....but do it and make a point to do it correctly, dont ask questions and you see the results.
Im thinking this is probably my greatest bike racing effort to date.
Of course no DH race is complete without an after party and this one was better than ever. Cake for James Pearl, Norm plays Chris Berman and interviews me for sports center...great times!!!
And the home brew bike and wheels....If ever I put a caining on a bike, yesterday was that day. I beat the holy hell out of that thing for 27miles and it got me home. Love this thing!!!