Written by Rob Price Friday, 20 March 2020 00:00
Driving north on I-81, it seems questionable there's going to be snow at the event. It's been such a mild winter, I've only ridden on snow a few times. Exit 39 drops you in Mannsville, a sleepy village where just outside the town limit sign Whitetail's far outnumber humans. After following CR 90 a few miles, the roads less maintained, and gaining a bit of elevation, suddenly there was snow everywhere.
Winona State Forest sits just east of Lake Ontario on the shoulder of the Tug Hill Plateau in Upstate NY. The region often gets hammered by storms enhanced by the lakes warmer water. Winona is comprised of over 9,000 acres, and has 40 some miles of multi-use trails. Here to defend my title, the returning long course champs get a heavily decorated number plate complete with LED's. The race consists of 4 laps with a prologue to break everyone up before going into singletrack, conditions were fast, and firm.
A classic LeMans start kicks off the event, and soon 8 or so of us were clear off the front. We stayed together for a few miles in the beginning while one rider launched a solo bid, and quickly disappeared. Still early in lap 1, I made the chase group of 4, and from then on we struggled. Each rider, myself included could have worked together better, and maybe reeled in the leader, but that's racing. Laps 2, and 3 followed with us attacking, and covering moves, only loosing 1 rider late in the 3rd lap. Time checks told us the leader now had minutes on us. Lap 4 was a more controlled steady pace, each gathering their strength for the finish. I wasn't about to go toe to toe in a sprint with my rivals. With just under a mile to go, and lapped traffic fast approaching, I attacked. The trail meanders through the trees, dumps you out onto the finishing straight then it's a long runout to the line. I opened up a comfortable gap and held it to the finish for 2nd!
Check out the snow podium. Race director/ founder Tom Hall, along with family, and friends put together an awesome event. Event footage HERE courtesy of Feather in Flight Productions.
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