Maine Sport Mayhem!
Well, my first "real" race of the season is under my belt. I'm not sure if it's really as late in the season as it feels but, damn, it sure feels like I waited a long ass time for my first mtb race. It's probably the fact that we've had spring/summer like weather for the last three months and the trails are bone frickin' dry that makes me think that but either way, it's damn nice to have the season kicked off. Race numero uno was the Maine Sport Mayhem! (the ! is actually part of the race name. hopefully they'll bring the !). Traditionally, as the first race of the Maine season, the Mayhem! is usually plagued by mud and nastyness. It never fails that the weeks leading up to the race will be bone dry and I'll rave to any who'll listen (and some who would prefer not to but have no choice) that the course is fun, fast and technical. Then, as if choreographed by satan himself, it ALWAYS rains like a mother on Saturday night rendering a once primo course into a course riddled with tight, root filled corners, greasy off camber rocks, bridges seemingly designed to break body and soul and shin deep mud. This year, though, we were blessed with dry conditions and the potential for super fun.
Because of the 100% super tight singletrack nature of the course, it is essential to get a good start. Being on a single speed and sprinting across a long lawn to start the race can be difficult but doable. When the gun went off, I was out sprinted by my teammate Ryan Rumsey and local good guy Gabe Finkelstein (anyone care to guess his heritage?) and entered the woods third wheel.
Things hurt from the gun for me but I was feeling fairly comfortable and able to keep pace with the two in front. Before long, it became apparent that riding behind Gabe was going to be an issue. Gabe struggled a bit in the technical sections but honked right along on the more open sections so it was very tough to pass when the going was good and the tech stuff is so tight that it's impossible to pass someone while they are on their bike so I bidded my time and waited for a chance. While I was waiting for an opening I made a couple of tech mistakes myself when Gabe would slow in an uphill corner and I, being on a single speed, would be slightly overgeared and unable to complete the move while on someone's wheel. These mistakes allowed two people to pass me right before the end of lap one putting me into fifth position overall.
Lucky for me, in lap two, Big gay Al (one of the two who passed me) dropped his chain so I was able to easily move past him so I moved back up into fourth, behind Gabe again. I had witnessed the now Adam (another passer) make a risky pass on Gabe a bit earlier, almost sending them both into trees so I vowed to make my pass as clean as possible.
Again, I waited patiently and finally saw an opening while we rounded Maine Sport's storage building. There was a bit of grass on the inside of the corner that I could sneak through. I didn't know what lurked beneath the grass (the building is surrounded by detritus) but I knew it was my only shot. We almost tangled as I passed him but I apologized profusely and went about trying to reel Adam and Rumsey in.
Adam and Rumsey just ahead
Starting our fourth and final lap, another single speeder, Ryan Littlefield, came flying around me before we re-entered the woods and quickly blasted by both Rumsey and Adam (I guess he figured out a way to pass in there) who were just in front of me. I believe I picked off Adam first because he was having shifting issues and Ryan pulled over to let me pass since he was totally gassed (Both he and Al train specifically for cross so tend to fade after an hour) so all I had left was Ryan up ahead.
eventual overall winner, Ryan on my wheel
Next up, the Big Ring Rumpus. Hmmm, maybe I'd better get meself a big ring for this thing.