Written by Jason Derrig Wednesday, 20 June 2018 15:22
So, after a little unplanned delay, my 2018 race season is off and rolling.
Sometime and somehow, in the middle of winter, I managed to sprain my LCL. Aside from the regular misery, there was the misery of not being able to ride the fat bike pretty much all winter. Not that we even had rideable conditions in the Midcoast most of the winter but anyway... So now we come to June and the normal early season aches and pains persist. Some odd forearm thing where I lose strength / grip in my right arm had me rethinking the enduro. But now I have TWO fat bikes: my trusty Carver O'Beast and my new addition, a 2015 Salsa Bucksaw 01. I brought both to the race and did what most people would do in my situation: raced the O'Beast. The O'Beast carried me to a 2nd place finish in the fat bike class enduro last year, why mess with what works? Besides, the XO rear derailleur on the Bucksaw was acting up.
The day started off promising. I got to the race, got a decent parking spot and headed over to the screen to find out I was already in first place in the 4 Hour. Well, at least my number was. Not bad for a guy who had no plan of racing the 4 Hour, or even the TT. So after getting my new number, I settled into my normal pre-race routine of pretty much doing nothing for a few hours. I did go up and scout out the first stage of the enduro, a gnarly, rocky little thing that could ruin someone's day if they thought all the stages were fast and flowy. Even did a little trail cleaning, tossing a few potential derailleur killer sticks into the woods. (There's my trail work for the season, gotta make sure Chris Riley adds that to the trail work hours for CeMe NEMBA).
Finally, at 3:30, the temps hit 85 degrees and it was time to get the party started. I managed to get up 6 Back toward the front of the pack, only having to wait for 9-10 people to roll out ahead of me on Stage 1. Dropped my seat post a bit while I waited and checked the tire pressure. Decided to leave the tires a little higher on pressure than I would normally to avoid rim shot Stan's issues. I thought I rode really conservative but was 20 seconds ahead of the 2nd fastest guy in the fat class on a just over 2 minute stage. Even had time to ham it up for the camera on the way down.
Came thru unscathed, tires still on the rims and even the arm was feeling pretty good. Got the seat back up on my way to Stage 2 and when I got up to the waiting area, a couple guys ahead of me let me thru while they waited for a buddy to catch up. Stages 2-4 are a bit of a non-descript blur. I found myself on my own, no one around so I just plodded along at my own pace and was able to dive right into the stages when I got to them. The heat was making me super thirsty and I never felt focused, kind of in a sweaty daze but not enough to cause any handling issues. Stage 4 runs right down the mini version of KT's “Sidewinder” and somewhere in there our awesome race photographer Angelica Dixon snuck in a pretty cool shot that makes me look way faster than I felt!
Sidenote: Race photographers are some pretty cool people. They get out there with their gear all day, get some amazing shots and HOPE that folks will buy some pics to make the day worthwhile so PLEASE support your race photographers. The more pics that get purchased, the more races they will be at, making you and I look way cooler than we really are :-)
Back to the racing...
Pedaling back thru the start/finish area on the way to the final stage, I DO remember getting heckled by Race Director Riley as I passed by. I think I saw two of him as I thought of clean obscenities to yell in his direction. Unsure if I was just dehydrated or if I had finally figured out how he gets so much done. Either way, I think I called him the Devil and continued over to the final stage. Coming into that stage, I had visions of carving the turns, crushing that sandy S curve climb and then ripping the rest of the stage into Tread Fest history. It started off fairly carvey but then reality hit: I'm out of shape, HR pinned and I think some kid on a strider bike may have passed me on that climb. At least the rest will be a ripp...........WTH??? Who's been playing in the sandbox??? In a brief moment of poor judgement, Director Riley let CMCC's enduro legend Justin Lagassey put some sticks and tape in there, forcing us to check speed and actually do some turning in that catbox. I could see where my skinny-tired breathren had run into some issues and even a 4.8” Lou on the front didn't get me thru without one minor bobble. Having lost a bunch of my momentum, I had to throw down one last burst of power before pretty much coasting to the end of the stage. Woooo hooooo! It was over, just had to pedal up Tall Pines Way back to the arch.
Having been the first fatty to finish, I got to sit in the “hot seat” and have a “cold one” while I waited for the other guys to finish. Being out of shape cost me 20 seconds to the 2nd place guy on stage 5 but I had the win in hand 30 minutes later. The only disappointment I had on the day is that I really wanted another shot at Todd Richard who had beaten me by 2 SECONDS the previous year. Sadly, Todd decided he liked skinny tires better this year so he raced his age group. The great part about Enduro is we all ride the stages individually so all that matters is the clock. He had the skinny tires, I had a little more fat than I like but it must help on those downhills. I beat him by 5 seconds. Maybe next year will be the tie-breaker??? ;-)
So, 1 for 1 on the season. I should probably drop the mic and call it a year but that just ain't gonna happen. Time to send this thing to Big Al and get back out on the bike. If easy enduro is in my wheelhouse, my next race sure isn't: Domnarski Farm on June 24th. It's gonna be hot, there's way too much climbing, there are sections that almost no one can ride, there are bridges that look like a carpenter forgot to clean up and there are rocks that love to cause pros to throw their double-flatted 22 lb carbon race machines into the trees. Stay tuned dear readers, stay tuned...
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