Race two of the weekend was the Maxxis Southern Classic Series finale on the awesome trails of Dark Mountain. I had missed too many races to be in any kind of points competition. Which was a good thing, because I was still pretty used-up from Saturday's 55-mile race.
The Cat 1 races started at 12:30. Good for me, because it gave me the opportunity to sleep in and recover a bit. When we did roll off, I felt pretty awful. I had done a 30 minute warm-up, but I was struggling to put out the power I needed to on the climbs to keep up with the lead group. So I didn't. I seriously considered pulling the plug and just quitting if I ever got to the end of the first lap. But I was enjoying being on a bike that wasn't all screwed up from crashing. The full suspension was a welcome change on the descents and roots as well. So I kept going.
Lap two was better. I ditched the sunglasses I had forgotten to take off before the race start, making it easier to read the trail. And then I started catching people. I'm not sure if I started to feel better because I was catching people, or if feeling better was making it possible for me to catch people. No matter. It was the carrot I needed to keep pushing.
Dark Mountain is the kind of rugged trail that rewards aggressive riding. You don't really have to be smooth. You can straight line the rooty sections and power over them, you can bomb the descents and sprint the next climb and you can dive deep into the switch backs before grabbing the brakes and pumping off the berms. The entire trail is really quite fun.
So lap 2 went well, on lap 3 I passed a few more riders (mostly from the younger classes) and just before the final descent I catch Jim Shelton, who is in my class but racing a single speed. I couldn't pass him on the descent, but when we got to the flat gravel road leading to the finish line, we both knew it would be game on. I didn't want to pass too soon, and get passed back. It turned out that wasn't an issue; I was struggling to stay on his wheel. We round the final left hander and almost hooked wheels. I had to back off a touch and we were both in full hammer mode to the finish. There was no definitive finish line, but the scoring tent was in front of a right hander. I managed to nose ahead of Jim a bit, but we both went wide on the corner and almost ended up in the scorer's lap. In the end, I was scored in 5th, 1 spot ahead of Jim who put in a heck of an effort on his one gear.
It was good to know that I could still sprint at the end of the day. Especially after how slow I felt at the start of the race. I'm looking forward to Shenandoah this coming weekend. Hopefully, all of the miles I have been putting in will pay off in the 100 mile race on Sunday.
Thank you to all who cheer us racers on!
Thanks to all the promoters who put together these amazing races and race series!
And a special thanks to Cycle Works in Mt. Airy, NC for putting my bikes back together after I bend and break them!!!
See you on the trails!
|Congrats: Morgan Olson, Eric Marland and Jim Shelton. 40+ Champs!|