Coyote Hill Race Report

I think this might now be the only race I have done every single season I've raced mountain bikes. For serious, check it out: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. It's that good. Wait, is it good? I'm not sure any more. It's all singletrack, but it's lumpy and fresh cut and generally a mess. The FLOW is few and far between. But hey, it's a legit test of mountain biking ability (damn!) so put let's put some numbers on and ride until we're praying for death. Yeah!

I got there Saturday night with my friend Christin, and right before we went out for a lap the MAN IN CHARGE, Tom Masterson, drove up and told us all about the new course. Which, of course, had been cut the day before. And didn't have bridges yet. Or had even been weedwhacked. But that's okay, cuz he still had 15 hours to finish building it. That's how they roll in Vermont.

The big change was that the dirt road climb had been taken out and replaced with even more lumpy singletrack. It seemed like maybe it was a tad less climbing, but it was definitely harder. The whole lap was full of slick roots, rocks and mud... so by the time I finished, I was like, wow, just riding four laps of this tomorrow without breaking my bike or will to suffer will be worth a few places.

And with that "positive outlook" in mind, I lined up with 18 other dudes on Sunday!

My wussy perspective led directly to the reverse holeshot, and I was TOTALLY OKAY with that. Noah Tautfest and Matt Green hung out with me at the back and we talked about who was in last place and how Matt's bars were too wide. Noah screwed up some stuff and I made fun of him, then Matt made fun of him, then he didn't seem to be as stoked on hanging out anymore.

Then Matt caught some rad air on the downhill (I'll post the video, promise) and then I passed him on the next climb due to the energy I saved. And then I was alone. And my back hurt. And it was still lap one.

So YEAH. Coyote Hill is hard. I think I told everyone in the feed zone that it was hard when I came through, and they told me to shut up and ride.

Apparently this is the season that I hang out with Paul Simoes, because I caught him somewhere on lap two. He was on an overgeared singlespeed (is there any other kind?) and attempting to curse his gear into lightening. It was moderately effective, in that he passed me back about three or four times before I finally got rid of him.

Oh, I also caught Kevin Sweens, which is notable because I haven't beaten him on a bike in like 12 months. However it's hard to count this one, because he got diagnosed with FREAKING MUMPS before the race. Seriously. This was his thought process:

1) I don't feel well, I think I'll see a doctor
2) Oh crap, I have mumps, I guess I'll drive 3 hours each way to a race I'm not preregistered for
3) Wow I feel terrible and dizzy and Colin just passed me, that's how bad I'm doing
4) Well I better not drop out because I'm sick since I drove all this way


So passing a delirious Sweeney was kind of funny, in a sad way.

After two laps I had been doing an EXCELLENT job of keep a lid on it and I was feeling decidedly okay. Then I ate a gel. And my legs were like, dude! let's race bikes! So I started RACING. And it was glorious.

There were a bunch of dudes I could see -- Jeff Landfried, Greg Jancaitis, Will Letendre? -- on the climb, and I was totally going to catch them. After ten minutes of RACING I pulled up behind Greg and was like, phew, time to rest.

Then we had a little dismount or something, and next thing I know I feel terrible and Greg is ten seconds up the trail. What even happened there? I still don't know. Five minutes later he's gone completely and I'm seriously regretting my decision to start trying hard instead of just riding smooth.

Greg eventually put 4.5 minutes on me in 1.5 laps, so that's pretty cool for him. Apparently 24 hour solo guys eat cross guys like me for breakfast in the third hour of a race.

Once Greg was gone, I was sad and lonely and started thinking about blogging.

I realized that Greg's last name is TOTALLY a disease my bikes have. As in, "My suspension pivots are worn, my chain is stretched, and my shifting sucks. I took it to the shop and they diagnosed it as an acute case of jank-itis. Nothing to do now but euthanize it."
It's not Vermont without a rusted car on the trail

Deep, deep thoughts like this might be why Paul Simoes returned from the dead to haunt me on lap four. I was ready to chillax my way to the finish with a half-written blog post in my head when I look back, and BAM, jersey. Oh Paul, does it really have to end this way? With you swearing at your bike like a sailor and me praying I don't cramp as I spin frantically away from you?

Yeah, it did have to end that way.

I beat him to the field with enough of a cushion that I was able to not freak out when I got caught behind Emily Curley in the last section of singletrack. Then she proved that she's a TRUE CURLEY by sprinting me to the line! I love it. NO GIFTS!
Giving Emily the DEATH STARE

Post race:  Does this look fun?

Post race part 2:  Apparently, it was fun for Kevin

[Photo credits:  Christin Christoph and Rob Stine]


G-ride said…
I have also done it every year in forever, and it used to be so awesome, but I realized this year that it had slowly been becoming less awesome, and I wasn't sure how I felt about that, so kept my mouth shut thinking it was just post race quitting blues, but then I thought more about it and realized, no, I was right, the trails have gone completely to hell.

That was one sentence.
Colin R said…
Honestly, I don't think it's awesome, in that the trails aren't that fun. However it IS a true test of MTB ability, so that's why I show up every year. Still worth the drive and entry to me, but I'm not a fair-weather racer like some people...
Yes, yes, that does look like fun.
kevin said…
The course has more exposed roots than any other course, and when it's wet, it because a true test of staying upright. The problem is May is always wet in Vermont, which explains why there are more roots exposed every year. The course is eroding, which is why it's becoming less fun.

I'd like to see the race run in a dryer month, or at least the 3 or 4 parts that are always mud bogs fixed or avoided before the trails aren't any fun at all (cough*Mt.Snow*cough).
G-ride said…
Right, Kevin. It used to be a hoot to ride there, and we had several dry editions a few years ago, but it feels like Tom is ignoring the trails (hello, waist high tree down across the course?) to a large degree, and he will end up losing the trail a la Mt. Snow.

We have Fellowship Of the Wheel up here who will even come in and manage your trails for you. Not a huge fan of FOT, but the trails are all Tom has going on in his life, so...

The log "bridge" in fill at the bottom of the initial fun descent section has not been touched, and gets worse every year. All the little bridges at the other end of the loop, after the worst of the trails and prior to the grass climb out of the basin, have fallen completely apart and were not even on the ridable line this year, we rode past them. I may have stopped there to "look around"...or something.

I had a miserable time, by no fault of the course, but I have been thinking about it as my crankiness has worn off, and I still think the course sucked this year.

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