Before the race even started, I thought I was out. While warming up, on the first turn into dirt I was down and broke the strap on my shoe. After I calmed down a bit I found some electrical tape, repaired the shoe and was back to a warm up. Whew!
The trail system for this course is brand new, and this is the first event they had. I had no idea what to expect, but heard it fun. I get a little nervous about racing trails I haven’t ridden before. My plan was to sit back on the first lap to watch the lines of the other riders. During the race, I thought to myself how fun the course was and I never got bored even with six laps.
The neutral start was chill until the first turn up hill. The pace picked up pretty quickly with a local guy (Ed T.) attaching before we hit the dirt. Ed helped design the trails and it showed he knew the lines. I entered the dirt in 4th position, and we were ripping though the course. About 1/2 way through the first lap, I ended up leading, which I didn’t care for. The downhills were a little tough being off camber and sandy, not part of my skill set. I came through the first lap in first, was keeping a good pace and trying not waste energy attacking so early in the race. Soon after the start of the second lap, Dwight Hall from Fort Collins , a 40 something who races a lot of road as a Pro 1-2 joined me (he has won his last three races). I let him take the lead on the second lap. I never let him get more then 10yds from me, and after the second lap I was back in the lead. I think I lead the rest of the race, laps 3-6. There were a couple times I put a gap on him but he would always come back. I was impressed by this and wondered how the race would be won. I never really put on an attach, I just rode my pace and hit the climbs to try to break him, but he never cracked. Somewhere around the 3rd lap, another racer in the 30’s said that he was leading his class, and we were about to catch the pros, who started 9 min ahead of us. So we had passed all the 20, 30 and now catching the pros.
The last lap was tough. It was hot, and I was getting tired. I was feeling some cramps creeping in to my legs and Dwight was still right on my wheel. Just after the second last climb Dwight attacked and tried to pass. I heard his tires in the grass next to me, but I shut him down with my own acceleration, and then I put the pressure on. We had about 3 miles to go. He was a better descender, than I and I didn’t want him to pass me with only one climb left. I railed the last downhill, with him still on my wheel, less then a bike length away. At the base of the last climb, I attacked as hard as I could and soon, the sounds of his bike were fading away. He was nowhere in sight at the top of the climb and I just kept going as hard as I could. I finished 8.2 seconds head of Dwight, sealed the win, and the series leaders jersey. Dwight is a strong rider and I am impressed by his skills and endurance. It would be fun to race with him again.
I ended up 6th overall, 1st in my age group, and obtained the series leaders jersey for my age group. I also won some cash for the 6th fastest time, a nice Rudy Project travel bag and other SWAG.
I had planned to race the 24 hours in the Enchanted Forest solo, but with all the forest fires in AZ, smoke is very close to the race venue. Weather reports indicate hazardous air conditions and wind expected over the weekend. I pulled the plug on this race and was able to get an entry into the Bailey Hundo. I’m really looking forward to the Hundo with so many of my friend racing it should be a great time. It will also help me with some prep for the Breck100 a month away. I’ll be racing the Hundo in Men Pro/Open, but I’m not expecting a high placing; these guys are young and fast. I’m just happy to be racing on awesome trails for a great cause with great people.