By: Todd Anthes
This race has been on my wish list for some time. 2019 was the year.
I traveled with a group of guys that I train with. They have been doing the race about a decade, so they knew all the ins and outs of the race. I did not request a preferred start but was in the first row of general population. And right before the start the rope comes down and I was right at the back of the preferred starters.
The rollout on the road was somewhat mild, although within the first few minutes there was a crash on the right side of the field. The sound of screeching brakes and carbon hitting the road is never a good sound.
I raced on my hardtail as my shifter on my full suspension bike appeared to be failing the day before the race. I would have preferred to race on my soft tail given the rough trails and rocky two tracks. Regardless, the hardtail was nice on the limited roads and smooth trail.
I tend to like cross country and less techy courses, and this course delivers. 48 miles of two-tracks, gravel, rocks, and ending with a little bit of single-track.
About 5 minutes into the race I was passing a group that included a friend. I was chatting with him on the two-track when my front wheel was sucked into a wet little hole. It sent me over the bars and into the weeds. It was so quick I was really startled, but nonetheless ok. I was back on my bike, but my computer and race plate were dangling from my handlebars. It wasn’t until the top of Misery Hill until I stopped to adjust those items.
One of the funnier moments of the race, as I was going back and forth with a teammate, he asked me why I kept stopping. I just laughed it off given the crash; if he only knew.
My little spill at the start of the race caused me to work harder than I probably would have for about half the race. I ultimately caught the group I was riding with when I crashed, but I burned some matches in doing so. The last ¼ of the race I was on the verge of cramping and couldn’t go as fast as I wanted. Regardless the single-track at about 8 miles left was fun and familiar, especially given the pre ride on Friday.
The race didn’t go as I had hoped, but you just get up, keep going and enjoy the moment. I’ve always had a conflict the weekend of this race. Moving forward it looks like I will be able to do this race, and that is a great thing as I thoroughly enjoyed myself.