or #8 depending on how you look at it...#6 was rescheduled for later this month so maybe its #9 now? Who cares, I don't. Why am I even writing this?
Go ride Millstone, do it now. Do it often. Ride everything they have 4 times in a row, you won't regret it or maybe you will depending on your level of leg cramping, but I had a pretty awesome level of leg cramping and I still had a huge smile on my face and it was not a face cramp induced smile either.
I can't say enough about this place, these trails were everything I love about mountain biking. Challenging climbs, but doable (even SS, sorta). Lots of technical features. Ample flow. And plenty of spots to let the speed get a little crazy.
Enough horn tooting onward to the report. I went into this race with a little trepidation. Things hand't really been gelling since the NH100. I had some residual IT band issues that would act up about 5 miles into any ride and I was still trying to ditch a cold/allergy thing that I've had for a week or so now. Wasn't anticipating an awesome experience but I really wanted to check out these trails due to all the hype its been getting lately. Hype that is well deserved.
Hit the road early for the 2hr drive and got to the venue while the fog was still clinging to the valleys. Granite country in VT is gorgeous and it was a pretty cool scene with the fog and everything. I was actually starting to feel pretty good, I had done a lot of stretching and using heat to try and get the IT band back on terms and my lungs felt a lot better. Then they started blasting techno.
8:30am serene VT farm, fog, cows, really loud techno. Obviously this got me very pumped up. Perhaps it was our time in Canada this summer or just how ridiculous the whole situation was (so ridiculous I had to tweet about it) but I was ready to race. My mental game was ready to go...sickness didn't matter, leg would be fine, LETS DO THIS. I suited up still had lots of time to burn so I decided to get a quick pre-ride in. This got me even more pumped. Did maybe 3-4 miles of some of the sweetest singletrack I've ridden in a long time and could not wait to get the show on the road.
Got out of the gate sitting in 5-6th and pretty much stayed there all day. I rode in 6th for the 1st and half of the 2nd lap and then caught 5th (NH guy that I actually bought the fork from that is on my Kona). We were pretty similarly matched and leap frogged all day until the last lap when I ditched him at the feed station. Now to some highlights. 1st and 2nd lap were pretty uneventful. 3rd lap things started to get interesting. Cramps were setting in, they were managable at this point but fatigue was starting to set in pretty hard. I could start to tell the 'slop' was starting to show up in my lines...with almost catastrophic consequences.
Towards the end of the lap there was a sweet descent I believe called 'Switchback'. Three guesses why they call it that. Huge, techy in spots switchbacks at speed, awesome. One in particular was fairly hairy, largeish boulders and maybe 1-2 doable lines and if you screw it up you either fall into a boulder field or get thrown off into the woods down the fall line into trees and various other brush, probably getting impaled in the process. I had smoked this section laps 1 and 2 with a pretty sweet inside line that was relatively clean, not the best exit but it worked. For some reason (probably a brain cramp...everything else was cramping, why not my brain?) on lap 3 I figured I would try a high line...not really sure why, I had already found a good line and I wasnt trying to pass anyone but I tried it. Didn't work.
I tried to wiggle through a spot that was probably un-wigglable, maybe on a 26in bike but you'd still have to be a ninja. Made it half way and then my rear wheel hit the boulder and popped straight into the air. I am now doing a huge nollie down a steep switchback boulder field heading straight for the woods and certain doom. Last ditch, I push and throw all my weight back and let go of the brakes to try and get things centered again to get my wheel on the ground. It worked, but it actually worked too fast and now I have to try and get my weight back centered again and fast because there are more boulders coming. So I throw my weight forward...failing to ensure I had proper junk clearance over my seat. I basically thrust my crotchal region straight into the back of my saddle as hard as I could. Luckily I took the shot in the bladder I guess is the best way to put it and not to my business. But it still did not feel good. 10 second breather and I'm off again...gingerly.
Lap 4 was good because now the legs were really locking up. I had to find the exact riding position where I could still get some power without cramping. I was able to sort of figure it out but sometimes you just cant get in that position when you need to. These were pretty epic full leg cramps too. Quads, calves...if you've never had a muscle as big as the quad fully seize up on you I highly recommend it. It is hilarious. Especially when you attempt to get up a very short steep pitch and your left leg completely locks up (as in it will NOT bend probably not even with outside assistance). And then the momentum from your movement and your other leg still brings the cranks around, only problem is that leg isnt bending. Try and visualize what would happen if you were pedaling your bike and one of your legs couldn't bend. That's right, you get lifted off your bike and tip over into the woods.
Rest of the lap went better, took the right line in the switchbacks and pulled in around 3h:48m. Which I am very pumped about because my goal had been 4hrs.
per usual, until Garmin figures out their correction algorithms, this data is basically all wrong. Distance...wrong. Elevation...probably wrong. Average Speed...wrong. Thanks Garmin!
I believe that time puts me in 5th of what was probably 8-10 starters, didn't get the best head count at the start. I am very pleased all around with my result...bested my goal, placed well, and I think I even beat some people I have never beat but I'll have to wait and see the official results when they post probably tomorrow. And all that with some phlegm and an angry IT band. Very pleased. Pleased enough to use an emoticon :)
Official Results. 5th of 7 finishers, I want to say there had to have been at least 1-2 DNF's in SS as well. A much more respectable time in the Expert field for me too, especially considering this was a longer format race and I was dealing with issues. Always nice to end the season on a stronger note.