Eastern Grind Race Report

The Eastern Grind was awesome.  After the first two Kenda Cups were blazing-fast, drafting pedal contests (note:  not a complaint), it rained the night before the Grind and turned an already somewhat technical course into a GNARFEST.

But the weather was terrible (50 with intermittent rain) and the weather was terrible last year, too, and it was far from Boston (like 3 hours) so tons of people skipped it.  Because "people" don't always like the things I like.  Ugh.  People.

The race was promoted by the Bicycle Express team, a bunch of wicked fast guys and girls from Vermont (note:  probably redundant) and they had built a special A/B line coming down from the high point of the course.  Lea Davison tweeted that it was "a legit World Cup A-line" and she knows about these things so the #hype was strong.  And then it rained, and I hadn't preridden said A-line, but I knew I had to ride the A-line because I have a reputation to uphold.  So I was scared.

(What's that, you say, no one actually cares what I do at a bike race unless it's expose a 24-hour cheater?  UGH EVEN WORSE)
IT WAS STEEP!  But the steep part wasn't the hard part.  (via Christin)

Anyway, on the start line they told us not to ride the A-line unless we had preridden, which is the same type of thing I say when I'm promoting and don't want to deal with ambulances.  Because when I'm promoting I HATE FUN.  But I was not promoting today.

The race started and the first half mile was ridiculously soggy xc ski trail.  I ate a bunch of water and other unknown substances flying in the air, and realized that in these conditions 22 miles was going to be a LONG FREAKIN' DAY, and there wasn't gonna be any "go out hard and make the selection" business, we were just gonna ride time trials in the general vicinity of each other until it was over.
This is soggy and slow.  Also, Carl, you missed the bridge.

That's a long-winded way to say that I got insta-dropped by the fast guys, but it was, like, on purpose.  I swear.

We reached the A-line on lap one and I knew that I had to just go for it and not think too much.  But it turns out that half-way down, there was a big off-camber wet rock that required a little more finesse than "just go for it."  So I got off my bike like a total cyclocrosser/failure and ran it.  There are no pictures of this.

The second half of the course was way easier/faster so I brapped around with much less fear and much more big ring until the lap was over.  It was quite nice, but that's all part of how lap one is a lie and no sensations you experience can be trusted (tm).

Somewhere along the line I ended up riding with Scott Yarosh and Carl DeVincent for a long time.  Carl had half-fallen off a bridge at the start and then told me he was "just having fun," which was obviously code for "I'm gonna surge so hard later on you have no idea."

This time around the A-line, though, I was prepared for the off-camber gnar-rock, and Scott (and maybe Carl?) got caught up behind slow traffic on the B-line so I gapped those suckas and it was off to the races!  Oh wait, we aren't even halfway done yet?  Ouch.

Starting lap three I saw Doug Thorp ahead of me, and since Doug won Kenda Cup #1 this meant I was probably doing SUPER AWESOME, but then Carl caught me on the climb and I decided that maybe neither Doug nor myself were actually doing that SUPER AWESOME but everyone was OKAY AT THIS.

Then Doug let me lead the A-line, and my weird-awesome high line on the gnar-rock blew his mind so he got distracted and crashed.  I will only post the pre-crash photo though:
If I don't post the crash photo, maybe Doug will let me live during cross season (Tim Burgher photo)

Once again this allowed me to drop Carl and think about how awesome I was maybe doing, right up until he appeared behind me on the climb on lap four AGAIN.   By now, though, I knew all I had to do was gap him on the A-line and then go as hard as I could go for the last 15 minutes, should be no problem, right?

(quads cramp in protest)

Luckily everyone else was kind of a mess by this point, too.  I started to see a dude ahead, who I last saw 2 hours ago at the start line and was like "oh I'm totally beating this dude..." and you know how that goes, ten minutes later I was like "hey where did that dude go?"

"That dude" had disappeared, but he was replaced by Kevin Sweeney which was even more exciting/painful because Kevin's been on my team basically forever (2009 IBC ELITE MTB TEAM REPRESENTTTTT) and while he usually beats me at things, sprinting is not one of them.

So I knew if I could just get to the finish line with him I could probably take it.  Unfortunately, he also knew this so we rode the last few uphill singletrack sections at warp speed with me questioning my assumption that I was going to take anything.

But then there was a 15-second downhill before the sprint to recover on, so I turned back into a pumpkin, er, sprinter, and took care of business to snag the last spot on the podium.

I had a grand time racing my bike and will be back next year, even if it is dry!
48 and windy = reduced podium enthusiasm (Kristen Seib photo)

Here is my post-race interview. I couldn't put it at the beginning because it's full of SPOILERS and I know you would never read this blog if you knew how it ended.


Unknown said…
Always love the race recaps.

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