The day started a little earlier than average. Up at 5:30, breakfast and coffee made, eat as much as possible and drink as much water as possible. Arrived at Granogue around 6:30 and made my way to registration. Lauri Webber had a great system set up and I trained the other early workers and got ready to register the 32 pre-registered marathon racers. Around 8:00 or so, I left registration to get ready for my 9:00 race. Warmed up on the road a little bit, dumped my vest and arm warmers, and took my place in the staging pens.
Before I knew it, my group was at the starting line and next to go. Fat Marc set us off and I fight my temptation to go hard off the front. I still find myself at the front, but decided to just sit in and not get too excited. Former Fort Mate Richard Bilson and his C3 teammate start to pull away from the rest of us towards the tower. I sit back and wait for someone else to chase, but after about 5 seconds of this, I decide to bridge up to their wheels. Rich led us up the Tower Climb and we hold formation to the top. Once on the other side of the tower, a few folks get around me, and then slow me up big time on the singletrack climb out to the cross-roads. Into the new singletrack section and through Deputy’s Woods, I am definitely in the wrong place and get held up a lot. I found it faster to just get off the bike and run around some of the riders who are slowing me up. By the end of Deputy’s Woods, things are more open and I start to move forward. I also pass the last place singlespeed rider right after the road crossing. The trend of passing the singlespeed riders continues for the rest of the race and I pass all but the top three SS racers by the end of the race.
The rest of the race was mostly uneventful except for my exchanges with Chris Y from D and Q. He and I start exchanging positions about halfway through the first lap and this continued to almost the end of the race. He had more power than me on the open sections, like the road climb, and was a much better descender. I rode uphill a bit better and ran better. I casually mention we could wait until the end to fight out who would finish first and he replied “Or we could just continue to sort it out now”. He got away from me at the end of the first lap and I did not see him again until the river trail, where he stopped to clean his bike. I told him I was going to go ahead and attack him and he said fine. He jumped on his bike and hung with me for the rest of the lap. I asked him if I thought we were close to the top ten and he told me we were in the top five, which turned out to be true. We both advanced forward, but never caught anyone from our class. He did have two teammates up ahead and we saw one of them at the top of the last singletrack climb. Chris attacked me on this section and got away. I never saw him again. It was about this time that my rear shifter crapped out, leaving me with two front rings and only a 34 in the rear. I switched to the big ring and stayed there until the end of the race, ending up in 6th place for the day. One place away from the podium.
The next MTB race in the MASS is not until the end of this month. This is the Iron Hill race, an event that I am looking forward to competing in.
Major props to Rich Bilson, who ended up 2nd in Vet I and had a blazing first lap time.
Pictures by the uncomparable Dennis Smith