Friday, July 07, 2017

Bond Brook Treadfest Day 1: 6hr solo

Ahh, Bond Brook.  A gem of Maine riding that only continues to get better each year as Central Maine NEMBA  (with Chris Riley leading the charge) tirelessly keeps adding more and more fun, swoopy, technical singletrack.  The riding here is a mix of old school gnar and new school bermy-ness but never too much of either.  I've been to new school place where I initially enjoy the berms but soon find myself looking for a rock or root to ride over.  Have no fear at Bond Brook.  If you enjoyed that last berm, you're about to be rewarded by a rock garden or a tangle of roots 8" high.  In other words, Bond Brook is real mountain biking and it's a place that will test you during a 6 hr race... oh, and did I mention the soil?  It's mostly clay so it packs into a nice trail surface until it gets wet and then things get interesting. 

 Pit row

Lucky for us, conditions were pretty much optimal leading up to the race.  We'd had our fair share of rain but the trails were mint.  That is, at least, until 1 hour before race start when we had a 20 minute torrential downpour!  Hmm, this should make things interesting!

This year's elite solo field was a bit smaller than last year's but the quality was high with Derek Treadwell, Andy Scott (umm, how am I almost twice his age???) Andy Gould and a couple of unknown to me out-of-staters toeing the line with the other 200-ish solo and team riders.

At the gun, a few team guys shot off the front while the open solo field quickly settled into a quick but comfortable pace that allowed everybody to test out how the days conditions were going to shape up. The group soon sorted itself out and we found a comfy pace for the conditions with Derek Treadwell, Andy Scott, Andy Gould and myself in the lead group. 

Fast forward a couple of laps and I was starting to get a bit antsy.  Currently, the pace was a bit too comfortable in the single track for my taste but, as usual, Tread (and now Andy Scott as well) would gap me on the long climbs and I would catch back up in the tech.  I started thinking that it was time to ramp it up a bit and put them under pressure in the technical bits so maybe they wouldn't have so much energy to get away on the climbs.  Sometime, on the third lap, I found myself second wheel behind Tread.  He bobbled on a steep, rooty uphill section.  I, somehow, managed to stay on my bike so I figured this was as good a time as any to see what damage I could do. 

Two damage!

I upped the pace a couple of notches (but still within my endurance zone) and tried to distance myself from the group for the remainder of the lap.  The move sorta worked with me getting clear until the next climb when the group reeled me in (I really need to lose weight so I can climb better!) but this time, they didn't gap me on the climb so we crested as one big happy group. 

Things went swimmingly for the next 10-ish minutes until the heinous ski trail climb.  A climb that Tread can easily put 30 seconds into me and more if he really tried.  and, apparently, after my attack last lap, he decided it was time to he and Andy Scott drilled it up the hill leaving myself and Andy Gould in their dust.  Well, that's that.

I look angry, it must be because I realized I was only half-way done...

For the next lap, or two, I would catch glimpses of Tread and Andy ahead but never bridged back up until I saw Tread taking a hot piss on the side of the trail and soon after got within a couple of turns of Andy.  Game back on. 

After his nature break, Tread blasted by me on the next climb but I soon got him in sight again at the end of the lap.  Interestingly, he pulled off course at the start/finish (I later found out that in his haste to catch Andy, he crashed in the woods and banged his knee so pulled out of the race).  That meant it was just me and the two Andy's duking it out for the podium spots.  Andy Scott was again nowhere to be seen and I hadn't seen Andy Gould behind me in some time.  Given that we were over 4 hours into the race at this point and it looked like the finishing positions were pretty much set, I went into complacency mode for a lap or two.  Complacency is a perfect mode to be in if you want to do well in a race right???

Andy Gould on my tail.
Well, my ride easy until the race is done pace backfired (uh-duh!) and somewhere around the 5 hour mark I saw Andy Gould not all that far behind me.  UGHH!  You know what's super fun in the last hour of a 6 hour race?  Having to drill it to avoid losing a position!  But, sadly, that's what I had to do and managed to hold on to 2nd solo and, just as importantly, managed to not cramp all day so my chances in Sunday's time trial and enduro were good.  (more on that in the next post)