Today's stage was billed as the queen stage. I'm guessing she's queen of the rocks...
We met at the Scout Camp and rode 3.5 miles at a casual pace to the race start. There was quite a bit of gravel road before the first off-road sections. Some of us pace-lined but when the road turned steeply uphill it was every man for themselves. Soon we were off road onto an insanely steep rocky climb. It was kinda tough to hike the bike up this section.
The trail following the hike-a-bike section was narrow and grown up with foliage on both sides that made it tough to tell where the trail was going or the surface your wheel was on. This gave way to a long descent that was mostly double track. It was a bit technical in spots from fallen trees and washed-out parts, but very fast. Soon we were onto quite rocky single track where I saw the 1st and 2nd place in GC in my class along side the trail. I found out later that 2nd place had a mechanical and would DNF.
The first aid station came up at mile 20. This marked the end of gravel road and onto some really nice, flowy single track. This ended a bit soon for my liking. Never-the-less we dropped out onto the road (paved in sections!) and climbed back up to aid station 26 which was the same one as mile 20. I exchanged a bottle the wife handed me and continued on.
The next section was a mixture of rideable rocky single track to barely rideable (for me anyway) single track. It was a ridgeline trail with a beautiful overlook, but I had to stay focused on the trail. Eventually we were off the ridge and on a fast descent, then undulating rocky single track. It was somewhere through here I remember wishing I would be bitten by a rattlesnake so I could be airlifted out of there. ...but I continued on bouncing from rock to rock.
At mile 33 we dropped onto the road where we had an option to grab a water bottle and were told we had 5 miles to go. Most of the next 3 or 4 miles were open road. Then we were back onto some double and singletrack including a waterfall climb which I hiked. Eventually I came to the finish line where they had water, coke, red bull and adult beverages for the weary.
Because of limited parking at the start/finish location, my wife was unable to get pictures. Tomorrow will be the final stage with the start and finish from the camp.
With 2nd place in GC having a DNF today my 4th place finish on the stage moved me up to 3rd in GC.
See you on the trails!