(*photos courtesy of BACMtman at the EFTA forum, nice of him to post/share*)It was held at a scout camp in Rutland, MA on all private land, the place was HUGE. Over 1600 acres with enough room for a 9 mile loop. I went into this race barely holding onto 2nd place in the overall. Two guys were threatening at about 15 and 25 points behind. One of the guys is out of my league (right now) but the other I thought I might have a fighting chance at beating. I have come within 2-3 mins of him a few times this year but could never quite bridge that gap.
The race started pretty well. I was able to stay with the group for the first mile or so and I was holding Jake Berry's wheel (the guy I thought I might have a chance of beating). We started catching the masters shortly after that and as Jake and I tried to get around one of them, we bottlenecked and I was moving too slow and was forced off my line and hit a rock that was a bit too big for my 29er wheels and I pulled a slow speed endo. Unfortunately for me I put my hands out to break my fall and ended up spraining my right index finger pretty good.
Holding the bars was pretty challenging after that not to mention braking. I lost Jake and was feeling kinda bummed. I still charged on, hoping that Jake would have some bike troubles or something. A few miles later I lost it a bit in a really technical rocky section and went over the bars and tweaked my finger, YET AGAIN. Now braking was completely out of the question, which made things really interesting. I kept trudging on, the second half of the course was a bit less technical so I was moving right along.
I was able to hop on the wheel of a fellow Central NH NEMBA member, Jesse, who towed me through to the start of the 2nd lap. Coming through the start area I look ahead of Jesse and who do I see but Jake Berry. This got the adrenaline flowing and almost immediately my finger started to feel quite a bit better. I could brake and grip the bars and I knew that I had a shot. I rode behind him for a bit and saw that he seemed to be struggling a bit. He was stretching his back and I decided that I had to make my move at the next fireroad climb so I could gap him before he could react.
I made my move and immediately had a gap. I kept the pressure on and got out of site. I continued to push it with Jesse in tow. Crossing a power line section in a technical spot that I was walking I look back and see Jake at the beginning of the section. This worried me, I think I might have pissed him off, and I knew I was going to have to push myself into cramp land. In retrospect I think that was Jake's last ditch effort to catch back on and when I had some more gas left when I saw him that was it. Jesse and I stayed together for most of the rest of the 2nd lap and I ended up finishing 4th of 5, 2 mins in front of Jake.
I was beaten by the other guy who was threatening my second place spot (but only by 6 mins, just last year he was beating me by 15-20 mins) so I lost that spot but by beating Jake I have held onto 3rd. I am not going to the last race in Maine and as long as Jake doesn't either I will have that position locked. I am super pumped that I was finally able to break into that 'upper echelon' of fast SS guys. Perfect way to end the season.
Now I just have to heal my finger and my leg. Why my leg? you might ask. Well, I removed the stitches from my recent mole removal last Tuesday aaaaaand I busted the wound open somehow during the race. I had it all taped up but to no avail. Looks like I will have to take some time off the trails and stick to the road to let that wound heal up. Works out...I need more road miles for the next big race, the Pinnacle Challenge.