After hitting Hopbrook on a grand total of two weeks of training (and getting my doors predictably blown off), I was STOKED to go to Fat Tire on FIVE WEEKS of training. With a 150% increase in training volume, I knew I would be 150% faster and win the race by 20 or 30 minutes.
Especially because it was forecast to rain, which meant that the ludicrously-fast-and-easy Fat Tire course might just require a little bit of bike driving this year. And I am the only person on the planet who excels at technical courses, so yeah, 20 or 30 minute victory, easy.
Fat Tire always pulls a good turnout and this year was no exception, despite the 50-degree rain. 28 guys in the Pro/1 race, and a holeshot that turned left into singletrack after 20 seconds -- so of course, I lined up at the back. And then spent a lot of time in the first minute having a squeal-your-brakes party with everyone else who didn't start like Durrin.
Eventually we strung out and started going fast, and guess what, you can't pass anyone on singletrack in the first five minutes because we're all going warp speed!
But it's ok, because it's a mountain bike race, and you have two hours to end up where you belong.
"Where I belonged" turned out to be somewhere in the middle of pack, with Matt Green and Jacob Harris. I spent most of the first lap drafting them, aka "getting mud and sand in my eyes for questionable benefit." As far as 50-degree rides in the rain go, it was quite nice.
Unfortunately with the rain coming down and 100 Cat 1 racers out there, the technicality of the course was increasing fast. Early on lap two Jacob crashed, and Matt and I set off alone. I was running Maxxis Aspens, which you can "make work" in sloppy conditions. Matt was running the MTB version of Dugast Rhyno tubulars (!!), so lap two was mainly me getting gapped by Matt in every corner, and then fantasizing about killing him and taking his wheels while I chased him down on the straightaways.
During this pursuit we somehow managed to overtake several dudes, and I caught a super rad crash on camera.
Luckily, before I had to resort to murder, Matt started showing signs of tiring. Ending lap three, I gapped him and decided that it was time to go WICKED HAAAHD and finish this thing off.
So I did. The first half of lap four went quite well, Matt disappeared, and I felt great.
Then lap four kept going, and I started to feel crappy, but it was still ok, because everyone feels crappy by then, right?
Then, two dudes whom I had passed an hour ago caught up to me and clearly did not feel as crappy as I did. They were, in fact, racing their faces off, at a level of trying-hard that did not seem reasonable to me. Guys, it's raining. And I'm cold. And tired. Why aren't you?
The final insult was Brian Wilichoski, who broke his chain about 10 seconds into the race, passing me on the short pavement section with five minutes to go and screaming BRAAAAAAAAAAP in my ear.
I limped in for 15th/28 (king of the bottom half, baby!), failed to find the hot showers (oops), cleaned up, and then watched an increasingly miserable train of riders finish over the next 30 minutes.
April MTB Racing, yeah!