Camden Run Off
Ok, so let's try to do at least a semi-respectable race report from this past weekend's Camden Run-Off shall we?
Sunday morning dawned beautiful, sunny and hot. Not Florida, middle of summer hot, but hot for Maine. Alby, Mike and I did a nice warm-up lap on the short loop (the expert/elite race was divided into two long laps and two short laps) a perfect half hour jaunt with just enough climbing to get the legs feeling good and then we went our separate ways to make final race preps prior to the start.
At the line, the sun really started to get hot. Hot enough that folks were hiding in the shade right up until MadMike called us to the line and hot enough that I'm really hoping that team Bikeman's summer weight jerseys show up soon because the black can be H-O-T hot. At the line I did something that I don't usually do, I lined up in the second row. I'm not sure of my reasoning there but I guess it just felt right since we were going off with the elites. When the gun went off I was immediately swarmed and went to maybe 15th place in a heartbeat.
Things were congested enough at the start that going up the very first pitch I saw WillC off the side of the trail trying to re-enter the race after having been forced off the trail. Thankfully, I was soon able to start picking folks off because I knew the front of the race (which included the likes of Andrew Freye and Brad Perley so I knew I didn't have much of a chance anyway) was riding away. The 20 minute opening climb was a bit of a conga line but, thankfully, I was riding close enough to the front to be able to ride everything with only a couple of dabs and picked up lots of positions as folks struggled on the tight and steep switchbacks.
Towards the top of the climb, I caught up to Bikeman's team manager, Big Gay Al, in his one time a year so he can still call himself a mountain biker race. He graciously let me lead down the hill because I had this descent DIALED. Or so I thought. Sadly, right before the race I added a touch more air to both tires and that turned my so freaking fast I'm on the verge of losing control descent into a holy crap I'm bouncing off everything and holding on for dear life descent. The good news was that I had the expert leader (Steve Crossley) just in front of me and a Bikeman dude who had just passed me so I was close to the front.
Shortly after rejoining the short loop, we entered a freshly raked downhill rock garden and I stacked it hard. I sailed over the bars and landed knee and forearm first totally destroying my watch and making hamburg out of my forearm. I quickly jumped up to get back into the race but the ti band on my watch was so mangled that I was forced to stop again and take the watch off before it severed any major arteries. Bye, bye expert lead!
The rest of lap one was uneventful but freaking fun with all sorts of fast and technical singletrack. When I came to the long climb on lap two, I repassed the Bikeman rider and set my sights on Steve Crossley and my bud SeaBass (who had apparently passed me when I was snacking on some rocks). We yo-yo'd a bit but I never got any closer to Steve than 20 seconds and SeaBass had found his climbing legs and was gone. I also got a chance to play a bit of tag with Alby on the climb before finally dispatching him to where he belonged. J
For the rest of lap two and lap three I rode essentially by myself but with others in sight both in front of me and behind. Entering lap three I had closed the gap to Steve to less than five seconds and was feeling good about my chances to pass him on the climb before hitting the singletrack. Unfortunately, as we entered the climb my chain dropped between the cassette and spokes and I was forced to jump off to extricate it. Thankfully it wasn't jammed to badly and I got it out quickly but the mishap allowed Steve to get a good 30 second gap on me.
For 2/3 of the last lap I drilled it as hard as I could but I just couldn't seem to pull Steve back so I finally decided to enjoy the last part of the lap by dialing it back a bit and getting my flow on.
In the end I finished 3rd overall in the expert field and 7th overall.