Tuesday, March 19, 2013


So, I jump up off the ground, shove my water bottle back in the cage, and start running up the trail to get out of the way.  I hop back on the bike and now it's catch up time... way too early.  Of course I'm in my own head now, and anytime I feel any movement in the front wheel I automatically imagine going over the handlebars.  Ain't nobody got time for that while racing the Bouldergeist!

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Already we are catching riders from the waves ahead of us... maybe this will help me close the gap.  At times, I think I might be catching up, but a couple times I get caught behind riders just a little longer then I would have liked.  It's hard to tell exactly where you are on the course, and in relation to those you are chasing, because of the constant switchbacks.  I catch glimpses of the singlespeed field here and there - and they started 15 minutes before me.  I finally settled in, dropped the worry, and rode.  Since I couldn't accurately gauge the gap I decided to not overextend myself and instead try to keep my pace and see if I could catch someone falling off as I picked through the field ahead.  

The one bonus of the course bending back on itself so much is that it easier to keep at least someone in sight.  There always seemed to be someone ahead (or behind) to keep you motivated and moving.   I pushed myself to keep my speed up as well as I could.  Knowing that the garmins will surely inaccurately report my mileage I'm racing on time.  Looking at last year's results I knew that if I can finish around/under 1:10ish then I'll likely be in good standing.  

When we hit the gauntlet I felt a surge of energy.
(at about 40 seconds you get a view of a section of the gauntlet)

This is where I can capitalize on others mistakes.  I enter the "pre-gauntlet" (yes, there was a sign identifying it) and I see a rider ahead fumbling a bit.  I catch up to her and am looking ahead to see if there is a safe place to pass... there isn't.  I follow her as we enter.  She's keeping her pace and we are both staying on our wheels so I can't complain.  On the first switchback to the left she dismounts in the trail, forcing me off the bike.  I run up by her and hop back on the bike and attack the rocks.  I'm loving every second of it!!  I'm not annihilating the trail, but I'm clearing it.  I roll up to the last hard switchback and decide to jump off and run it.  I wasn't sure of the line and felt I didn't have the speed to just bust through.  I was a little disappointed on the decided dismount, but I was really happy with my riding through the majority of the gauntlet - a shout out to the Boneyard in really making me work on rock garden riding.

After the gauntlet was the first, and really only, respite.  A nice long, smooth, downhill run that gave me a chance to get a drink of water.  I hit a couple of hard strokes and coasted as I drank.  Quickly I rethought that strategy as this was an opportunity for speed.  So I jammed the bottle back down, shifted and hammered.  I used that pristine straight away for all she had and jumped back into the singletrack.

As I was catching more Cat 2 females I noticed a rider gaining on me.  He had been back there, but typically I had maintained a rider between us.  Finally there was no one between us.  I didn't recognize his jersey from the start line so I imagined he was the 40+ leader.  On a climbing switchback I yelled down to him to let me know if/when he wanted to pass.  He was content to follow.

I dabbed on a switchback allowing him to close in.  Clearing the next switchback I gave it to him, riding to the right I told him to take it.  He did, and thanked me.  I jumped on his wheel... briefly.  He took off, and suddenly I wondered why I hadn't called back to confirm he was the 40+ leader... what if he was in my class??  I was pretty sure he wasn't, but it was too late, he was pulling ahead and what I had left in me to try to grab back on didn't seem to be enough.  I pushed the thought out of my head and kept riding.

I was finally in no man's land.  I could no longer see him in front, and no one seemed to be behind.  Soon I enter one hell of a jump line.  It scared me at first because I wondered if I was off course... but no, below me I see the rider who got away and it looks like this the way to get to where he is.  Nothing I can do now, so I just ride.  I can't say I went balls to the wall on it - something about getting massive amounts of air during a race doesn't sit well with me... so I pump it to keep tires in the dirt as much as possible.

As I clear the jump line I can once again see riders on the switchbacks - but now I was more focused on those that were behind.  I didn't feel I would be able to catch anyone from my class at this point, but I wanted to make sure I didn't give up ground either.  I looked down at the garmins and it was around 56 minutes at this point.

Ok, best case scenario I have 10-15 minutes left... that is, if I've been riding well enough.  I think I have?  F it.  There isn't anything I can do now if I haven't, so I decided to ride it like I only have 10-15 minutes left.  That meant no letting off.  No leaving anything on the trail.  No coasting.  I see a female rider ahead, now I have the bait.  I use her as motivation and work my way up to her.  I'm behind her as we climb, and we just seem to keep on climbing.  We MUST be near the end by now.  She spins out on a short up and we dismount, she tells me to go ahead, and I do with a "thanks."  She jumps on my wheel and now it is up to me to set the pace.  We enter the dragon's tail and now I KNOW that we are close to the end as one of the racers at the start mentioned we finished out on the dragon's tail.  It is a fun little back and forth bermed downhill section.  Although I'm loving that gravity is once again my friend, I am dreading the climb back up to the finish.  I can finally see the start line through the woods and express my joy to a spectator - who can do nothing more than laugh.  

As I exit the woods Sean is there with my camera yelling "pro line."  If he hadn't been there I would have had a choice, but he was set up towards the "non-pro line" on the right so I was naturally going left - through the root drop.

Now I'm out in the grass looking at the last climb.  I don't see anyone ahead and do a quick gut check - just as I thought, nothing left in the tank to really bust it up the hill.  So I get my cadence up and work to just not loose speed on the hill.  I make it up to the top and cross the line, completely done.  Shortly there after the last rider I passed comes across and thanks me for pulling her through to the end.  I returned with thanking her for pushing me to finish hard!

One of the guys from my class comes up to me and congratulates me.  Huh?  "Looks like you snuck onto the podium!"  Really?  That isn't possible...  I'm happy at the thought, but it doesn't compute in my head.  My look must have given my doubt away and he says he is pretty sure, but maybe I should check.  I check the preliminary posting and I got 4th.  A little bit of a let down, only in the sense that 3rd had been dangled in front of me when I didn't think that would have been an option.  But I am happy with 4th, but more so I'm happy with my finishing time.  1:11 - right about where I wanted it to be.  I'm psyched I got 4th, but even more proud that I hit my goal.  

I finished that race just happy.  Happy to be riding, happy to be racing, happy to have been able to keep myself pedaling, happy to be riding with such great strangers - and happy that I got to race on such a great trail!!  

Looking forward to the next one!


  1. Great ride Mike, sounds like a fun course!

    1. Thanks Fabian! It was a fun course. A lot of people were cursing it, but I missed that type of riding.