I mean seriously.
Ok had to get that out of the way now to the standard recap:
Singlespeeders got started after the Elites again this year. I used to hate this because you'd always have all the Experts breathing down your neck. But now that I'm a bit faster I like gauging how I'm doing by how long it takes certain people to catch me. I geared down to 32-20 for this race, I think I made the right choice. I was a bit worried I might get blown out the back during the 'parade lap' at the start but I was actually able to stay towards the front of the field.
A few of the usual suspects got off the front early never to be seen again but I was in the next group of about 4-5 riders. I was hoping I would feel better later into the race but like just about every year at the Pinnacle those climbs make you feel like crap immediately and then its just suffering for the rest of the day. But also like every other year those descents make it all worth it and even more so now with those berms!
Steve caught me just before we topped out on the first lap. He came by looking pretty haggard but also moving pretty fast. Those typically go hand in hand at the Pinnacle. I was able to hold his wheel for a bit finishing off the climb, because of this I started screaming at him that he was not going fast enough. He heard me and took off and won Expert Vet I. Glad I could help.
Heading into the 'pump track in the sky' Shawn caught me and we got to shredding pretty hard. We were caught in some Expert traffic a bit (yeah thats right EXPERT traffic, get out of the way EXPERTS team NEMBA coming through) but we finally got free'd up and started getting a little loose and taking some risks. Hard to not let it rip at dangerous speeds, just a bit too fun. Things were going great and I was happy to be getting whisked along this far up in the Expert field. Then unfortunately I got into auto pilot a bit. We were just about to the clearing before the plummet and I've done this race so many times that in my head I was remembering a mostly straight run into that area with no serious obstacles in the way.
I realized just a bit too late that I was screaming at probably 20+mph at a 90 degree hairpin turn with a large tree on the inside corner and two smaller trees on the downhill side. i.e. you had to get it just right no margin on this one. I locked em up and started tokyo drifting, I knew fairly early in my slide that this wasn't gonna work out so I started thinking optimum bail strategies. Looked like the only viable option was to try and rail the corner going way too fast and just see what happens. Went for it and I think I hit a rock or root just as I was pulling through the trees, if I had suspension I might have been ok but the shot I took was a bit too much. Couldn't keep my weight back and ended up over the bars and flying and I could tell my wheel took a beating as well. Lots of forces being applied in a short time.
Luckily, as some will attest that ride with me often, I have perfected the 'graceful step over'. This one was a bit more violent than graceful but I was able to avoid any damage to my person and kept on trucking. Unfortunately I lost my train and had to get to suffering by myself for a bit. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. Just trying to hold on and keep things upright. I had a pretty good wobble in my front wheel (which can hopefully be fixed) so I was trying to keep an eye on that as best I could.
I was starting to fade quite a bit heading into the last lap. I'm usually good with one bottle but it was pretty hot today and I was really craving some straight hydro as opposed to Cytomax. Coming through the lap point heading into lap three I see Carl standing there with a bottle yelling at me if I need water. I think I yelled something like Hell Yeah! or maybe I didn't and he just looked at me and it was obvious. Either way I wanted to make certain I got that bottle so I proceeded to ride directly into him. PRO BOTTLE PASS ACHIEVED.
That really hit the spot, thanks again Carl. MEGA. Mentally I felt like I was right back in it. I saw a SS just up the trail who was loosing me on the climbs and I was catching him after the descents. He started walking up the climb to the fireroad and I figured this was my best shot to try and get past him and out of sight. So I burned the few matches I had left to at least put on a show of strength. I was hoping he was fading as well and if I blew by with authority he might give up the chase and let me go. Unfortunately I think he might have been a bit more seasoned of a racer to fall for my shenanigans. He prob just set to reeling me in slowly and I was fading fast on the rest of the climb after my fake out effort to get away. He caught me at the top of the fireroad climb just after the water tower and started putting little incremental gains into me in the following switchback climbs. I could see him for awhile but he kept gaining and I had nothing more to put down.
I think he had some left in the tank because he ended up putting a few minutes into me by the finish and I was descending better than him. Final descent was just trying not to kill myself or loose any places. I noticed on my Garmin that making the 2hr mark was gonna be close so I got after it a bit trying to come in under. I was successful and stopped the clock in 1h:58m flat. I didn't get a chance to really peruse results to see how that time compares but it was good for 6th in a field of about 15ish? I beat some names I wasn't sure I was going to beat. Mentally I'm starting to get to the point where I will be expecting to beat half the people on the line and If I'm towards the front of the field early its not a fluke. It's a good feeling. This season is probably the first with consistent results that are confirming the years of flogging I put myself through. I'm glad I made that seemingly weird decision to ditch derailleurs and start racing again 6 years ago.