This weekend has been a blast. Glad I made the trip over to Wausau and race with the home-state crew on the dirt once again.
After manning JB Cycle with Cribb and Matt on Saturday, my Dad and I drove straight east on Hwy 29 for a trip to Nine Mile Forest. I've raced here many times before, and every race has been pretty darn good, whether it be WORS or 24-9. The course is a 8.5 mile loop filled with Doubletrack, some short climbs, and this year, a fairly large chunk of new technical singletrack.
We camped out with the Stadium Bike crew, talked some shit, and then, talked some more shit. It's all part of the fun of bike racing--especially mountain bike.
After warming up Sunday afternoon with Jordan and Cribb, it was time to get it on!
With a 2 mile roadie leadout on doubletrack, the race started just like any crit....fast, but not bad if you position yourself near the front. I started in the middle of the 90-man field, so it took some work to get up to the front of the pack, but it worked well. I was on Cole's wheel right before the first singletrack section, and he accelerated HARD and dove for the wholeshot--and got it. I got swarmed behind him and ended up 10th into the singletrack.
Fast forward 1 lap--I'm already pretty much riding by myself, but constantly fighting to find my rythym and flow in the tech rocky singletrack sections. I've moved up to 9th place and feeling pretty good. Chad Sova and Todd McFadden are fast on my tail though, so I've got to keep up the pace.
Lap 3--Cole and TJ flatted in the lead group, so that automatically puts me in 7th place. Not bad, but I've got to keep motoring. Chad catches me on Ho-chi-Min trail, but I pull myself together and ride away from him by the end of the lap.
Lap 4--Things are starting to click real well, I'm flowing fast and smooth through the singletrack. Then I duff it in a gravel corner in front of a ton of spectators....at least it gave them some good entertainment! I'm back on the bike quick, keep it going, and put a gap of about 40 seconds on Chad and Todd. Ho-chi-min trail hurt real bad, but I knew that if I made it past that, I could hold my position from there. Right at the top of Ho-chi-Min.....Pissssss-issss-isssss-issssss! Rear flat from a rock tearing a hole in my tire sidewall.
Keep cool, right? Pull out the CO2, bend over and put it in the tire and let the sealant do it's work....then sit down, cramp up hardcore, and wait out the cramp for 15 min sitting on the ground. To make matters even better, my CO2 was empty and my tire was completely flat. After finally stretching my back out and un-cramping it, I walked all the way back to the start line....a fun 3 mile hike-a-bike cool down section.
BUT--I'm real happy with my performace today. I felt better each lap, kept my power high on all the climbs, stayed in the top 10, and almost pulled off a 7th place finish. All with no time on the mountain bike yet this year. My fitness is where it needs to be.
Here's a good comment on todays race from the WORS message board that sums it all up:
"Why all the DNF's during the Elite race today? What's with fast guys and flat tires at this event!"
DNF's today included: Myself, Cole House, Randy Bailey, Josh and John Kay, TJ Woodruff, Matt Waite....among 25 others.
Glad to see eveyone back on the mtb again....Tim, Sam, Marc, Randy, and everyone else. I'm happy to see everyone only got faster, yet again this year!