Written by Jonathan Salinger Thursday, 02 August 2018 00:00
Still recovering from a major surgical procedure on my left shoulder back in January. I was going to follow the PT and Doctor's suggestion and wait until I had regained 75% strength before racing an Enduro event but, I was feeling pretty good; and I have a fear/love relationship with some steep, rocky, rooty trails that have been included in the stages of the three past Sugarbush enduro events that I have raced.
I got up there at noon on Saturday which gave me enough time to ride each of the 4 stages once (even with the mandatory 40 min 50/50 ride/hike-a-bike transfer the bottom of stage 2 to the top of stage 3) I also got a chance to hit stages 2 and 4 a second time before quitting at 6:30pm to eat, shower, and do some hardware adjustments.
Stage 1 was very familiar – I had fallen or needed to stop every time I had tried to clean this trail, except for one special time; 8/22/15 – It was my race run on my 53rd birthday, and the day I won my class in the ESC Sugarbush Enduro... It seemed harder this time but I one-footed my way through the nasty part on my practice run and moved on with no plans to ride it again until the race. Stage 2 was super fun – fast with berms and jumps – 70% bike park with some fast old-school DH thrown in. The transfer from the bottom of stage 2 to the top of stage 3 takes riders over to the north/west side of Castle Rock – so there is no way to take a lift or ride down to it. You must climb mostly steep fire roads for almost 1000 vertical feet, much of it in direct sun, so that can take a little steam out of your engine. But, once you get to the top, it’s a fun ride through narrow, technical, rocky trails with sharp turns and quick steep climbs – all through sharp rocks and slippery roots and a final descent through a crazy steep off-camber pine grove that requires some smart pedaling to maintain the necessary momentum. Once at the bottom – lift up to the top to the start of the final stage. This one is fast, with big rocky obstacles that you must jump or avoid, with some scary steep rocky parts and fast step up into a twisty, narrow, rocky path.
That night was fun and relaxing. I set up next to some other RI Racers who I noticed were displaying the same Yakima rooftop tent that I have. They told me that they saw mine last year and were motivated to order the same one once they became available through the bike shop where they apparently all worked. I shared tools and they shared food and Sugarbush athletic center allowed campers to use the showers/pool/locker room for $6.50 per visit. Got a hot shower and the excellent night's sleep that I always seem to get in that roof tent.
Sunday morning I slept in till after 8:00am. Had a leisurely breakfast followed by a half hour of easy gear climbing to warm up as my class wasn’t starting until after 11:00am. My race runs were noticeably slower than past race runs on the same trails. My shoulder still becomes weak and unstable when my hand is extended outward above my chest. Instead of pushing out into that zone when being launched by the terrain, I tried to pump more with my lower body to absorb some of that launching, which made everything seem slower. I fell 3 times on stage one and could feel a hematoma knotting up on my inner left thigh as I pushed my way through the rest of the stages. As I tried to flow through the trails, I remembered aggressively attacking prior runs on the same trails with more speed in rock-bermed corners and launching to clear some nasty parts that I was forced to technically navigate this time.
Overall, it was quite fun – I managed to take 4th place in my class. I just need to keep training and recover about 1 min per stage to get back to the level that I was racing before the injury.
Gonna get back to training and hit another enduro race in mid August.
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