Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Carrabassett 50
Part 1

This past Sunday was the inaugural Carrabassett 50 a (supposedly) 50 mile mountain bike race in the foothills of the Rangeley-Stratton mountain range.  I was semi familiar with the area having done several xc length events back in the day so I was excited to see what they could put together for the 50 miler.  I met up with WillC and 3/4 of his fam on Saturday for a bit of a pre-ride and some dinner and I was once again reminded that not EVERYONE from Mass is a mass-hole, just most of them.

WillC had hooked us up with a condo for Saturday night so that we could get a good nights sleep for the early race start so, of course, we stayed up too late watching the final TT of the tour and drinking too much beer (at least I did).  Off to bed with a max of 6 possible hours of sleep (not too bad) and then commence to wake back up at 2am and can’t sleep.  F’er.  So I killed an hour and a half playing online scrabble and reading an old issue of Ski magazine cover to cover and giving me a chance to take some tylenol for my quickly approaching hangover.  Mercifully, around 3:30 I fell back asleep and woke up for good at 5am so I decided to just get up and get the day rolling.

WillC and I rolled into the venue at 6am, set up our shit and went in search of breakfast and the all important coffee.  Choking down breakfast was hard.  Choking down coffee full of grounds was harder.  Just remember not to take the last sip!

mmmmm, groundy

 pre-race meeting
When race time rolled around I was a bit bummed to find that we were to head out five minutes after the elites.  I had hoped to try to ride with them for a bit at the beginning to see how I would have fared (turns out I wouldn’t have been with them for long anyway) but the expert only start allowed us to head out at a pretty reasonable race.

elite start line
On the start I almost got the hole shot but with a bit of properly applied brake action managed to let Ryan Littlefield pull the whole group around for the first few miles of access road type riding.  When we got to the first long gradual hill (15 minutes of climbing I think?) Ryan was setting a pretty comfortable pace and I was sitting 2nd or 3rd wheel.  Half way up the climb Tyler Merritt cruised by us and cranked up the climb.  We let him go since pushing that pace 20 minutes into a 5-6 hour race didn’t seem wise (for us at least) and thankfully we caught back up by the top of the climb.  The first downhill starts at the crest of the climb and immediately turns to shit with short boulder fields, steep, rooty, slightly eroded sections and twisty turny-ness.  Essentially super fun stuff if you’re riding well.  I was not riding well.  I had once again put too much air in my tires.  After my Saturday pre-ride with WillC I felt my tires were a bit soft.  Maybe a few psi tops.  So after the pre-ride I proceeded to add four or five pumps of air from a floor pump.  Genius.  So I was bouncing down the trail right up until I bounced right into it launching myself and my bike over a body pillow size rock.  There was no damage though other than watching 8 or 9 guys stream by me.

Once we were back on the access type roads I found myself with a fellow Bikeman’er, and leader of the SS class, Chris Cyr.  I didn’t want to blow sky high but I also wanted to catch the leading train of 8 or so guys (including teammates Big Al and Ryan Rumsey) and because we had a few miles of fast access road type stuff so I dug in a bit and pulled the group back about half way through the first of two laps on the old xc course.

At some point, when we hit some more technical single track, Ryan and I separated ourselves from the rest of the pack and rode most of the remainder of the first lap together being joined late in the lap by Chris Cyr who was killing in on his new carbon niner ss.

When we started lap two, Ryan and I eased into the climb and were soon joined by the rest of the leading group again.  This time it was Chris’s turn to push the pace and he quickly put a huge gap into us on the climb.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Tune in again tomorrow. 

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