I did this one last year and it was so awesome that I told all my MTB-owning-but-never-racing friends that this was THE RACE for them to do in 2011. Seriously, I got the "what MTB races should I check out?" question from a multitude of sources this offseason, and I told EVERYONE about THE WILLOW.
...and then they changed the course to have tons of doubletrack. Doh!
But the non-doubletrack sections were still dope enough for me to forgive them. But not enough to keep me from registering my preference for the 2010 course over 2011 on the internet!
ANYWAY. Twenty guys showed up to race DA BIKES in the elite class (and 440 people total!) and just like last week there was a woeful shortage of scrubs. Mike Wissell made an early bid for "scrub" status by somehow finding an off-camber on the doubletrack start and nearly crashing on it, but then he chased back onto my wheel (which was nearly the last wheel) as we hit the singletrack.
And immediately... some dudes let huge gaps open, because now we had to STEER. Thanks, dudes. This must be why other people were sprinting. That's ok, I didn't want to beat Kevin anyway.
I tooled around with Mike and Will on my tail while I tried to figure out how to get past the non-steering dude(s). Then there was a random and inexplicable crash, and suddenly I was free! I pedaled as hard as I could while yelling "Sweeney, wait for meeeeeee," but it didn't matter, Kevin was gone and on his way to putting five (!!!) minutes into me.
Meanwhile Mike and Will rode directly behind me and we had a cheesey and useless B2C2 team time trial going on. I was able to use an overtrained Mike Rowell (is there any other kind?) as a blockade to briefly get away from them, but then we hit the MONSTER DOUBLE TRACK SECTION and Mike effortlessly towed Will back up to me.
This made me realize that maybe I should try doing some of these 20-hour weeks Mike likes to do. And that I was going to have a problem in about an hour, because Mike DOESN'T GET TIRED. He's like a budding Alec Petro.
But me, I get tired like it's my job. So I hung out on Mike's wheel in a desperate attempt to not get tired. Will and his dad legs did the same to me, and after one lap the team time trial was in full effect.
Somewhere on lap two we gapped Will and I breathed a sigh of relief, because I was worried about getting beat by a guy who trains by sleeping 4 hours and night and changing diapers. Mike, on the other hand, has not reproduced, and was abusing me mercilessly. He had a sweet crash that might've been my opening, but he cleverly blocked the entire trail with his bike while ejecting from it and I couldn't get past.
At least when we got to the double track section, I was already set up to draft him like a jerk. Which I did. We talked a lot, mainly about how we were glad that Will was gone. Teammates!
Right about the time I was approaching a solid hour of looking at Mike's butt, he crashed again (now on lap three) and it was HILARIOUS. He hit a wet root, then a tree, and the blew up like he had ridden over a land mine. In between laughing I determined that he was okay, and then it was time to FLEE.
I rode the last 30 minutes looking backward every 10 seconds and pedaling as hard as I could, which became increasingly less hard with time. I also lapped roughly a bazillion sport riders, which was super fun for me, and super fun for them if they liked sketchy passes. I tried to compensate for my passing style by heckling people I knew and being jovial to everyone else.
Any time I wasn't talking to/at sport riders I was praying for death, because it had been two hours and my stupid body has no endurance, because the stupid guy who lives in it never does any long rides.
Instead of death I found the finish line, in 8th out of 17 finishers. Kevin managed to completely change his clothes in the 5 minutes he had to spare, which was annoying, but Mike and Will weren't there yet, so I bet they were even more annoyed. Eventually we all finished and drank beers and Red Bull until I felt sick. Because that's what MTB is about!
|Bar Cam Snapshot: Mike is in way too much of a hurry to use bridges.|