I race mountain bikes. I train all winter and get fired up to race in the spring. For me, mud is as much a part of mountain biking as dry, fast conditions and if a promoter is going to have a race, I'm going to be there.
I opted to save the $50 I would have blown on booze going to dance party USA Saturday night with the possibility of having to buy a new chain and limited myself to 3 beers. Racing my bike is so much more rewarding to me these days then getting wasted and spending the next three days feeling guilty and wishing I hadn't. I was in bed dreaming of rooster tails by 11 pm and Casey and I woke up to find a nice blanket of snow on the ground. As we loaded up the Maybs in the Ele I assured her that "down there" they had only got 1" of precip and it wasn't going to be that bad. I was wrong.
We drove through the beautiful winter wonderland and pulled in to see a fairly hopping scene of peeps, everyone in great spirits and in some way psyched about the awesomeness of the scenery. Everyone that was there is tops in my books. I wasn't the least bit surprised to see almost the whole Segall crew, some DRJ A-Teamers, 29'er Crew, some Mashers and even Scotty D who drove all the way from Springfield. My buddy Dave brought plenty of free PBR and Adrienne and Russ showed up to witness the epic event.
After talk of tires, a healthy dose of chamois cream and the PRO smell of some med embrocation I was ready to go. The new course was sure to be quite a bit harder, especially considering that the first descent was going to be super sketch. I had some Maxxis Medusas on that were hooking up like C-Money in a gay bar and was going for the hole shot. CP had already told me his SS was only good for 18 mph and when Gibbs told us we had a mile of flat pavement before the single track I knew what I had to do.
I was off. I was riding clean and quickly established a big lead. I would guess I had almost a minute but then I started to catch glimpses of someone closing in. I was going real well, riding clean and after all that rest last week my motivation was really strong. I was able to push and wasn't looking about my heart rate of thinking about holding back as I had to in the endurance race the weekend before, in retrospect, maybe I should have a little bit as they were almost the same length.
Chris caught me by surprise about 2/3 the way through the first lap and I willed myself to stay with him and we chatted about how our bikes were working. He kept asking me if mine was shifting ok, which it was. Other then some yo-yoing as he stomped me on the climbs, we were riding well and came through together after the first lap.
I jumped him a little at the start of the second lap and knew I had to hit the hilly section of the course with a good lead to hold him off and got down on some Rooster Booster. I think CP must have sensed this though, and somehow caught me at the beach and laid some hurt on me on the gravel. He dangled me at about 15 seconds for awhile and then was gone from sight.
Heading up to the base of the big climb in the middle of the course I came up on D-Wayne who told me Chris wasn't far and let me pass. As I started up the climb I saw CP walking his bike about 20 seconds ahead and tried to ride up as far as I could before I started to run. It was like some kind of slow motion bad dream for both of us. He would look back and try to run a couple steps only to have his legs seize up or slip and i was doing the same. It was the race. I was trying to stumble up this hill but at about 2:00 of a 2:26 minute race the legs gave out. I crested the hill and he was out of sight.
Once again I was forced into my head and the thoughts were good. Anything can happen and every pedal stroke I could churn in the 42 would bring me closer to him. I was struggling but amazed that my motivation was so strong this early in the season. I even convinced myself that if I could see him when we hit the pavement I would be able to wax him with gears but he knew that too and put it down well before then. He opened up close to a two minute gap in the last 4 miles of the course.
"Jah, he had zose wittle wheels and I just crushed heem like a girly man"
That was that. I was pretty stoked though, can't complain about the way I'm riding right now and it's coming to me pretty easy, maybe easier then it ever has. The motivation is there even though I don't have any big goals for this season. I'm feeling fast and I haven't even tuned any of the speed in my training yet. I'm optimistic about another great year.
Post race was rad as usual. Eddie handed me the PBR 2x4 before I was even off my bike and when I set it down he popped out of nowhere with a Coffee Stout. Everyone was in good spirits and laughing about using trees to slow down or wishing they had brought their underwater bicycle. Unfortunately, I didn't have many of my teammates to share it with as there must have been a skirt and pumps sale at Macys, however, with all the solid folks around me Casey and Mabel were pretty happy on the ride home.
2009 pictured above, 2008 below.