I knew I had to stay with the group and suck wheel as much as I could, but hitting the top of the climb didn’t mean it was over from there. As I attempted to suck down a GU I yoyo’d off the group on the false flats and soon found myself in a solo TT. Not too much longer another train of guys I had struggled to beat up the climb picked me up for a mile of two before I again found myself dropped and Han Solo. Frustrated and tired I mashed most of the road by myself and finally grabbed a group I could stay with. We pulled the last few miles of road where the boys let me go ahead and do my thing on the singletrack. I thanked them as I dumped my gears, let out a few hoots and hollers at the aid station, and headed on my way down the home stretch. I was so excited to finally hit the downhill I forgot all about the misery I had survived and found my third wind instantly. I was screaming “rider back” the second I started catching dust from all the roadies that had dropped me on the road. I was making up gobs of time and could taste the finish when out of nowhere, on a forest service gate go-around I clipped my bars and got ejected. I got up fast, twisted my bars straight and jumped back on the bike, sprinting back to life only to find I had burped my front tire nearly flat.
|Photo by Rick Tillery|
It was still ride-able so I pressed on, but as soon as I hit the last technical descent of the race, BTI, I realized how low it was and had to baby the rest of the descent. I lost most of the time I had made up and got caught by all the brake-riders. It was a pretty disappointing to finish this way, but I made it in one piece and had the downhill the next day to look forward to. That night I met up with the Ravina brothers who had brought me up my bike for the downhill; a demo mount vision xm8 (thanks Mark!). The next morning we showed up with only enough time for one practice run before they closed the course. After my one run I pedaled back to the top, lost some air in the fork and tires and it was time to race. I was pretty nervous racing pro for the first time, but moving up is all part of racing and I was also excited for that. My time had come and before I knew it I was in the start gate telling jokes as the clock hit zero and I was off like I stole it. I hit all my lines I wanted to with a pedal thrown in anywhere I wasn’t riding the brakes.
I made a quick detour off the trail that might have cost me a bit but I was focused on finishing strong and fast. I finished with a 4:10, just barely 11 second off the winning time and new course record. My time had put me right smack in the middle of the heavily stacked pro field, a decent result for my first pro race and a new bike, but still a lot of room for improvement. The weekend was finally over and what a weekend it was, so much fun racing mountain bikes! Big thanks to Marin and the Ravinas for the last minute bike, see ya’ll at the first Oregon Enduro in Bend!!