Race Report for Mt Snow, Root 66 Race Series, 7/26/2009.
This was the local race w/ the national race in two weeks on the same course. Come on out and play…
If you have never raced Mt Snow, you just don’t know!!! This sounds stupid, but boy is it true!
Up the ski mountain and then back down. Sure that sounds easy and perhaps even somewhat fun. Sure! The course starts climbing on the north side of the mountain, spits you back to the start area, and then there is the long climb on the south side. This starts on a quaint fire road at a 18 % grade but soon changes to grass. Add the weather we have had, and you get a 1000 feet of climbing in two miles with what feels like ½ of it on wet sloppy soft and muddy power eating kick you down suck up all your freaking energy and leaves you feeling dead nasty m-f’ing muddy grass. For extra fun, Mt Snow had redesigned the course this year to add some climbing on singletrack, but again w/ the weather, this became a no traction push your mud covered bike up a slippery slope. All the while, chair lifts were easily gliding over head, making me wonder why I had not switched over to downhill riding yet. Crap, if technology exits to easily bring you to the top, why put yourself through this... To get to the point: going up was a total suffer fest! Usually the work put in to get to the top gets rewarded when going back down. The downhill section which is usually a very challenging technical trail of roots, drops, and sharp rocks was now slick as could be and in some sections covered w/ one foot of mud. If you grabbed a little too much front brake, you could kiss your front teeth goodbye! This was true for both the north and south side. Welcome to a total masochistic experience (which I paid for and drove 3 ½ hours to get to).
I had gone up Friday. Since my knee had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, I had cut down on my training, and thought it would be wise to make up for the lack of fitness by being well prepared for the course. I pre-rode easy on Friday and like a good idiot rode it hard twice on Saturday. At that time there was enough mud on the course that I bend my derailleur hanger and snapped the inside of my derailleur cage off. Every time I went over a rough section, the chain would fall off the pulley and I would have to pull over to put it back on. On Saturday night I was beat with a giant ice pack on my knee and a mis-functioning bike. Bad knees and skinny carbon parts don’t go well w/ mtbing!
When I lined up on Sunday, my legs were sore and I knew this was not going to be pretty. Everyone at the start line looked nervous and many admitted to having second thoughts about this course. The discussion agreed that no course was as treacherous or challenging as this one, especially at racing speed and w/ all the mud. We went off and my plan had been to stay behind the fastest guy going up the fire road but to be in front the moment we hit the singletrack. This would allow me to pick my own lines instead of getting stuck blindly following. I put a little gap on after the first techy section but had to pull over twice to put my chain back on my pulley, and found myself right back in the group. Again I was able to put a little gap on by the start of the climb on the south side of the mountain and was trying to find a pace to settle into to survive the whole thing. 2/3 of the way up, a guy I did not recognize was on my wheel and was not letting go. We crested the top and started to go down. I dabbed going over a big rock and he passed me. It’s a fairly long way down and by the time we got to the bottom he had pulled open a small gap of 5 seconds. I caught back up to him on start of the north climb and was able to stay w/ him to top, where once again after entering the technical section, I lost my chain. Quickly fixed it, caught back up, and as we were going through the spectator area, I tried to show off and catch some air over this small jump. Dumb ass! Of course I lost my chain again, and it took me three attempts to get it right. By the time I was back on the bike, he was gone and as we started the climb on the south side, I could see him slowly starting to increase the gap. My legs were shot ½ way up and I knew there would be no catching up. It was for me now just a question of holding onto my current position, and not die on the way down again. I did eat some grass when on a flat and easy section I rode right into a well marked (and thankfully padded) ski lift support pole. This was towards the end of the race and I was obviously bonking pretty hard. Another sign of my bonking hard was when on the finishing stretch a kid from another cat passed me, and to my own surprise, I called him a mother f’er!
I finished second, one minute behind. Not the smartest race I have done, but probably good training for two weeks from now for the nationals. Hoping, if the knee holds on until then, for a top 5 finish. The nationals are also a bike fest, w/ road rides, mtb rides, parties at night and cheap camping on the mountain slope if anyone is interested. I am going up Thursday on the 6th and might have some extra space, staying till Sunday!