One more race for 2007 in the books and five to go. Yesterday was the Bradbury Mountain Enduro, a 30 mile xc race with a good bit of climbing and more continuous singletrack than you can shake a saddle sore encrusted ass at. The race started off a bit differently this year than in years past heading straight up the mountain instead of across the street to the singletrack. This was good and bad, good that it got the major climbing out of the way early while you're fresh but bad because you hit some very fresh (read: soft and energy sapping) single track climbing right off the gun before you're properly warmed up.
My plan for the race was to get a good jump on the le'mans start and settle into a my rhythm and try not to get too caught up with the crazy fast pros taking off on the front. The starting run went perfectly with me to my bike in about 5th (out of what had to be 100+ expert/pro riders). Upon reaching my bike though I saw that I forgot to reset my computer so like the bonehead that I am, I spent the first five minutes trying to find 5 seconds of smooth area to get it reset and running properly instead of concentrating on holding my position which meant I lost a few spots by the end of the first climb. It was one of those things I kept telling myself to just forget about it and deal with it later but the ole fingers had a mind of their own. Oh well, I'd better just remember to reset the durn thing before the race next time! Despite the fresh, soft trails I was feeling pretty good and by the end of the first 14-ish miles (when we cross the road to get to the sweet, well worn singletrack sections) I was sitting somewhere around 10th (including pros). This is where things started to get ugly.
The first singletrack across the road is the "O" trail. I'm not completely sure why it's called that, it's certainly not orgasmic by any stretch with the way it twists and turns and has very poorly positioned roots and rocks in most of the corners. Maybe its called that because of all of the "oh, shits!" that can be heard yelled by racers eating shit on those nasty corners. I, myself, had two "oh, shits!" once banging up both knees and one ankle and the second face planting pretty nicely after a nasty endo. Who was it who says 29'ers never endo? Let me know who it was and I'll kick 'em square in the nuts. In the process of my falling (and screaming like a girl b.t.w.) I was passed by three or four other experts including Big Al and my cornering confidence took a nose dive. With only about 15 miles done and another 15 of all tight, twisty singletrack to come it looked like I was in for a long day.
For the most part, I held it together from there on in following closely on Al's heels most of the way. We'd occasionally trade spots, me going faster on the open sections and Al making me work hard to hold his wheel in the twisties. With about five miles to go, while diving through some super tight single track I hooked my handlebars on a tree and went flying for the third time of the day, this time only hitting my head on a tree so the damage was minimal (!). Somehow, in the fall, I did manage to bend my water bottle cage but nothing else. Interesting. Al was totally out of sight at this point and I had a moment of internal turmoil, should I just play it safe and cruise the rest of the way and hope not to get caught by anybody else or dig deep and try to reel Al back in. I chose option two and hammered whenever I could and rode careful when I had to and in 20 tough minutes had brought him back. From there we swapped back and forth many times and in the process picking off a couple of people ahead of us.
With about a mile to go, I started to hear rider(s?) coming up from behind so in the last fast sections I got by Al one last time and hammered it the rest of the way using up what energy I had left and finished with a time of 2:58 and Al rolling in 30-ish seconds after. With such a big field it was hard to tell where we actually finished but when all was said and done I got 1st in expert senior II (I think 3rd exper overall) and Al got ended up with 2nd in vet I. Decent finishes on a pretty tough day.
My brother, in his first xc type race in three years, ended up racing in the sport race and despite having to change two flat tires, soldiered on to finish in just under 4 hours. A brutal first race back I would think but it didn't seem to deter him from doing the 12 hr race there in September. Us Nelson's aren't very bright.