Saturday night I got my bike all ready to race on Sunday morning. Although I wasn't sure where I was gonna race, it was either Michaux 25 mile rocky race or 2 laps of Wawayanda (another national qualifier). I was gonna make the call Sunday morning based on weather.
I first did this race as a beginner XC race 2 years ago and had a blast - the promoter puts on a hell of a race. This year was no different, apparently last year though they got rid of the XC and went to just an endurance series with a 10/25/50 mile option.
Right from the start we got to race in some fresh singletrack which was cool but kinda sucked at the same time. It really seems that once it is all ridden in, that will be some really sweet singletrack. Mud and water holes were the next thing thrown at us and all I could think about was where are all the rocks I remember. I guess they had the same idea when planning the course, because before I knew it there were the rocks I was looking for.
The lead group was 3 guys and myself, with Lath Carlson and Mike Yozell passing us quickly (after starting 2 and 4 minutes later respectively). We then dropped the 4th place guy and kept on moving, next thing about 10 miles in the lead guy flats I get by him and I'm sitting in 2nd in SR. and according to the people at the course crossings I was 8th overall at probably mid-way.
A little later on the guy with the flat passed me somewhere on one of the climbs, only to catch him at Grave's Ridge (I think that's what the locals called it) where he apparently took a bad line and crashed in the rocks. That was a pretty nasty section, but also pretty fun at the same time. As it turns out that area claimed a few injuries. I really starting bombing down the next section trying to put some time between me and that guy.
After the last bit of singletrack the course turned up a dirt road to the finish which seemed to go on forever. I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 46 minutes in 3rd place in the SR class and 10th overall. Somehow the guy that crashed at Grave's Ridge, who never got by me after his crash ended up 5 minutes ahead of me and in 1st place. After talking with the promoter about it the guy admitted to never passing me, so the decision was that he must have "accidentally" cut the course and to move everyone else up a place and he gets a DNF. We all agreed and I went about our post race clean up, eat, and drinking. I was talking to Harlan and Aaron, and a few cars away I hear some yelling and swearing. I look over to see the DNF guy talking to the girl he was with, and she is flipping out about how he can't take DNF (as if there is some negotiation). He must have gone back to the promoter and said he couldn't take a DNF and now he remembers always seeing arrows wherever he was going. What nobody can figure out is how someone can win by 4-5 minutes and never pass me after their crash??
Oh well 3rd place is a great effort, what really sucks is the guy that got 2nd place should've really gotten 1st place. He wasn't around for the whole dispute out the placing. I went up for my pick of the prize table and scored a nice set of carbon flat bars.
The local contingent had a great day, Lath secured 1st in the SS class and took the overall win, Mike Yozell was 2nd in Vet and 3rd overall, Selene took 2nd in the womens class, Kim Dubeck finished her first race pace big mile event - 10th place and ahead of quite a few people, way to go Kim. She's gonna rock it at French Creek - I think she was toying with the competition.
The 50 mile race had the big guns out for some cash payouts. Here's the run down of the top guys - Chris Eatough, Jeff Schalk, TJ Platt, Jon Gwodik, Harlan Price, and Aaron Snyder. Those guys were flying with Chris in just under 4 hours for 50 miles! Topher took 1st in the SS class and 11th overall (on a freaking SS)
French Creek here we come! Apparently they made this course super hard, with about 17oo feet of climbing per lap. Boy I feel sorry for the people doing the marathon - 6 hours of rocks.