The 2nd annual P2P race took place on some of my favorite trails: the IMBA Epic trails at Kerr Scott Dam. It included Dark Mountain, OVT, Shiner's Run and Warrior Creek. With dry trails, warm sunshine and a better marked trail, my goal was to beat 3 hours for the 37 mile course. There was no age groups for the expert class, so I would be taking on the best of the best.
My class rolled off first. This race being, pretty much just a kinda-long cross country race, I knew I'd have to go hard early. So we hammered the switch back climbs up ovt that lead us to the Burn course on Dark Mountain. I'd been riding my 26" FS bike here and I had forgotten how much a hard tail bounced around. The loose leaves and my fast rolling tires made it a little treacherous. I ended up trading places with another on a FS bike that would pass me on the descents, then I would re-pass on the climbs. Eventually I would get away and roll down the final sweet dark mountain descent.
Next was ovt and shinr's run, which really suited me and my hard tail much better. There isn't much climbing, but it's fast, flowy, and bermed. The hills that are there can be sprinted over. It's really quite fun. I could ride it all day.
Ovt ends at bandits roost campground where there is an aid station that I blow thru and head out on the open road for 3 miles of solo time trialling. There are 2 riders up the road that I wasn't able to catch until the biggest climb of the day on the smooth, paved roads of warrior creek campground. This was followed by a 40+ MPH descent (and an omigosh corner) that lead to a short section of trail that looked like it hadn't been ridden since this race last year. With a thick covering of leaves it was hard to discern what was trail. I actually had a hard time getting enough grip to climb some of the short, steep hills. By now the riders I passed on the big climb have nearly caught me again, but this section ends and it's on to old familiar warrior creek trail goodness.
It felt good to be able to go full gas again, and I hammer up some switch back climbs. We are diverted through some campground roads, but then it's back to warrior creek business as usual. There are mile markers set-up for each of the 12 mile loops and I'm counting them down as I'm pushing myself to try to catch other riders. I can't help but smile as I descend the cork screw, and flew through the air on the various jumps and throw the bike into the banked corners. I even clear the rock gardens with no issues.
After mile marker 11 goes by and I pop out of the single track, a volunteer directs me up a hill to the finish. It's a long, hard, climb with no one to catch ahead of me. Still, it only seemed right to finish strong. I cross the ine at 2:50 with a bug or two in my teeth.
I would only be 7th on the day, but I put forth my best effort. What ese could I do on such a beautiful day on such great trails in God's amazing creation?
Tomorrow it's off to try my hand at some cyclocross racing. And my mtb? It's going to make the transition to a rigid single speed.
See you on the trails!