August 4th was the Mountain Goat Adventures Race To Sunset at Blankets Creek. I was thinking about racing it and in the week prior to the race, Grayson sent me a message telling me that he was injured and asking if I wanted his race entry. Of course I had to do it now, that race being as local a legitimate race as exists. Then, Brother talked himself into doing it too; his first mountainbike race in 5 years or so, and probably his 10th ride on a mountainbike period in as many years.
So we set out for the race and it poured rain the entire time we were driving the 35-40 minutes to the venue, thankfully shutting off right as we pulled off the highway. Upon arrival, we talked to the lovely ladies at Registration which was a completely pleasant and painless process in every way. Having done tons of races, I’ve come to expect everything and anything at race registrations. I liken it to checking in and going through security at airports. Some are great, like Vienna or Reno; some are terrible. Like LaGuardia. This was definitely one of the better ones. After we registered, we found Janice and set up the pit box and got ready to race. A Pastor from the church that was letting us use its parking lot for the race gave a prayer before the race which was very genuine and very nice and left everyone in a good mood. Then we heard the Anthem and I couldn’t help but to think of our athletes at the Olympics which then made me want to go and crush it. I'm sure everyone felt the same.
There was a LeMans start, which I like, and I went into the woods in 4th position or so, along with Wyatt who was doing his first 6 Hour Solo and planning on destroying it on the first lap, and Brother right in front. Shane went by and I knew he was going to set a quick tempo. The rest of the first lap was pretty hectic, as I overtook Shane for second place in the sector between the two loops, and caught Wyatt who then let me go by as Shane caught back up and passed me as we headed back to the Start-Finish. My main issue was with picking lines; I ride Blankets several times a month but exclusively the opposite direction to the race (it had been 2-3 years since I last rode the trail that direction) and I felt like I had never ridden the trail before in my life. Plus is was HELLA slippery and my rear semislick was proving to be a bad decision. So that was fun.
After a while, the wet trail started to dry out and become more tacky and less sticky. I was overtaken for second, falling back a few minuted into 3rd position. On the 3rd or 4th lap I clipped a tree with my rear derailleur at speed and it bounced me back into another tree on the opposite side of the trail so I had to dismount and straighten my mangled hanger and rotor manually (I didn’t do a very good job) so that I could continue. Grayson was giving me splits to the guy in front and I passed him on the 6th lap after he had blown up trying to chase Shane so I was back in 2nd.
After a while, I became aware of Cesar chasing me in 3rd and closing a minute or so on each lap, but with Grayson giving me splits I calculated that he was not closing fast enough to be able to do a 9th lap where Shane and I would be able to. So I came in from the 8th lap and saw that he was still at least 7 minutes back and Shane was still 6 minutes up on me. I would not be able to catch Shane on the last lap and Cesar would not have enough time to complete another so I hung it up then, happy with 2nd.
We had awards very promptly ( I still don’t know if anybody took podium photos or where those may be if they exist, I will continue trying to find them) and had a really nice friendly podium because those guys are just that cool. Brother came 4th after Cesar which was a tremendous result for him because even though he would have been able to flog anyone and everyone on pure fitness, there is no getting around the fact that the kid does not ride the mountainbike at all anymore so I was stoked for his result there for sure.
The bike was brilliant on the whole race except for the parts that I managed to destroy. I never had a single bad shift; through all the mud and crap the SRAM X0 shifted brilliantly, even on the one section of the course (Hurl Hill) where I dropped from the 39t to the 26t chainring while climbing at full power. I can report that I had absolutely no pain in any body part (except one, see below) which is really remarkable for a 6 hour race. Before this Breezer Cloud9, I can honestly say that I’ve never before had a bike that I can get off after almost 6 hours of racing and feel like I was only finishing two hours of easy training.
Now the crappy part that some of you may want to skip if you’ve just eaten: I’ve been dealing with a pretty heinous saddle sore for the past few weeks that made me want to skip the race entirely and stop racing for a while to heal. I’m sure many of you have seen me avoiding road group rides lately, now you know why. It is slowly going away from what I can tell but I am forced to sit on the saddle crooked to keep from putting pressure on it and it is aggravating the tendon under and behind my right knee and totally killing me.
I’ve been racing for 11 year continuously now and have had my share of saddle sores but they almost always manifest during base miles season after cyclocross is over (January-February). I’s really a pain in the ass. Hopefully it is gone soon. Sorry for the TMI.