This thing was tons of fun! Here's the only picture I have thus far... there were some other professional photographers out there and I'm waiting for their pictures to hit the internet. I usually don't care too much but this time I think there is probably a really cool picture of me out there; I popped a wheelie on a bridge by one of their photographers!
I rested up as well as I could Friday night and attempted to treat Saturday as any other race day. Felt decent in my warm up and was able to nab a nice second row start position.
Here is the neutral roll out- if you look carefully you can catch me wide right in the 2nd row or so.
After that we looped under the bridge and were allowed to open it up. I actually led for a while at that point. We had been warned about the gravel being washed out and I wound up all the way up front when I tried to avoid some of the wash-out stuff. It was ok as the pace was pretty comfortable until we hit the cemetery hill. Normally I would be up for a quick climb with $50 on the line, but I knew that probably wouldn't be my greatest strength at that point in my week and so I climbed at a very comfortable pace.
Over the next 6 miles or so I slowly worked my way forward through the pack until getting up with some guys who were going just as fast as I was. We all took turns out front until I was able to pull away from that group and into sole posession of 14th (or so I was told) around mile 24. I caught and passed the next two guys, but they were able to hold my wheel on a long double-track section. Soon we were down to 2.5 or so miles to go and just one last steep climb... BOOOM my chain snapped. My immediate reaction was "how do I walk out of here", but then I realized that I did have everything I needed to fix it. A few minutes later (and 6 or 7 spots further back than I had been) I was back on the trail. Soon after that is when I saw the photographer and thus the wheelie.
I finished in 18th (or was it 19th?) about 18.5 minutes behind Brian Matter. All in all it was a very good effort when judged vs. my past XC performances. I think that's the closest I've ever finished an 'expert' length race to one of the really fast guys.
A lot more importantly- I had a great time, felt solid on the trails, bike felt good etc. etc.. It really left me looking forward to more!
I hope to be back next year. This thing has a ton of great technical singletrack and plenty of climbing. Excellent race course.
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