With a stacked pro field as usual, I kept real cool at the start line with a quick warm-up and stretch and was ready to pin it. I had hometown hero and Giant factory racer Carl Decker starting right behind me, so I had extra motivation to get on the gas for stage one. Stage one was one of the longer stages, about 7-8 minutes with a good mix of flat pedaling and technical rock drops and shoots. I made it through clean and had the finish line in sight when I hit the deck on the last duffy corner only feet from the finish. I stood up fast and sprinted across the finish line on foot, shaking my head as some buddy’s complemented me on my excellent dirt-noming style. I was bummed but hadn’t lost much time, still finishing 16th on the stage, and still had three more stages to make it up. From stage one; it was a short pedal to the shuttle that took you back to the venue, where you had another 2-3 mile transition to stage two. Stage two was the shortest of the day at less than three minutes, and consisted of sick wooded singletrack that opened up into a white-knuckle swooping jumpline that weaved back and forth with huge bmx-style berms. I nailed all my gaps and pumped my heart out to finish within seconds of the stage winner, 15th for stage two. It was a quick transition to stage three, easily the longest and most physically demanding stage. I was feeling strong and on point until about ¾ through the stage I clipped a tree with my handlebar and got sent tumbling right onto my head. Still seeing stars, I got up quick, straightened my saddle and finished as quickly as possible. My crash put me down at 31st for that stage which was heartbreaking, but the worse news was my throbbing headache and blurred vision. I took a good, long break between stages to collect myself and decided to finish, but the 4thstage was a struggle. Stage 4 had the most pedaling and least technical of all the stages, which didn’t help my already growing headache and stomachache.
I struggled through the stage and finished 24th on the last stage of the day. Overall I finished 23rd, solid midpack and better than I had expected, but wasn’t where I should have been. In the end, this is bike racing and learning how to avoid trees with your bar ends is something that hopefully comes with some more experience. I’ll unfortunately be sitting out the the 3rd round of the enduro series, the Ashland Mountain Challenge in hopes of making a solid and healthy recovery and will be looking forward to the 4thstop of the Oregon Enduro Series in Camas, Washington! Big thanks to Mark at Marin Bikes for the instant bike support, GU for keeping me fueled up 100%, Camelbak for keeping me hydrated so efficiently in those transition stages, Smith for keeping my eyes safe and my looks sharp, and of course Lost Coast Brewery for the continued support! Also thanks to Devon Lyons the race coordinator, for an amazing race series and an amazing cot to sleep on! Thank you!
T Pratt aka Dirt Sample Extraordinaire.