After a restful 9 hour sleep (a record for me!) at the plush Lodge at Mt. Snow, JB and I woke to dark skies and some additional moisture that fell overnight. Sweet, more fuel to the fire that is mud at Mt. Snow. We had a country breakfast and set out to join the other suckers intent on flattening the epic climbs and finding traction in the woods.
The course was redesigned since last year's Nats. But, most everyone was flying blind today given the conditions did not allow for a pre-ride. I got in a good warm-up and a light spin with Matty-O as we swopped stories about how old we're getting and how hard damn hard this racing thing is on family life. We got to the line late and I lined up on the last row alongside Colin who was aiming for the reverse hole shot today.
The start was clean and we were a large pack heading up the fire road climb. I made some passes and was probably top-20 prior to the first singletrack section. It was here that I realized I was only going to pose as a mountain biker today. I was totally unprepared mentally and skillfully for the slippery conditions and had to dab a couple of times looking like a real ass-clown. I was quickly relegated towards the back of the pack. But in true Mt. Snow fashion, the singletrack descending was short-lived and it was back to ascending action and I regained some of the spots I lost.
The actual course map can be found here. I am having a hard time recalling the flow of the course, perhaps because it was so unmemorable except for a ton of climbing necessitating a humbling amount of granny gear use, some uphill singletrack that was unrideable (for me), some wet grassy traverses, and a white knuckle front wheel mud surfing descent.
What was memorable was the rubber-banding I was doing. I would begin the laps pulling away from the likes of Colin and TP on the climbs, only to have them rocket past me on the descents. These guys were actually biking while I was posing. It was cat and mouse for a few laps, and it eventually included Jon Rowe. But on the final lap, I put in enough distance on them and used the motivation of passing JB to get me up the climb quickly enough to not get passed back again. It was a sad sight to see Joos fixing a flat in the final 1/4 of the course on the last lap, but that was another position up for me.
In the end, I rolled in as pack fodder, but fully punched as the legs began to cramp on the final climb to the finish. The field was cut in 1/3 due to the conditions as only 21 of the 30 finished. So, a top 1/2 of the field finish for me is satisfying.
Notable finish was Kevin Hines bringing it home in 2nd. Kevin is to XC racing what Mark Martin is to NASCAR racing. You think you can beat him because he's old, but he defies that logic. I'm more like Bill Elliott. I am old, and you can beat me!
I hope for Mt. Snow's sake the trails dry out for the Pro XCT event in 2 weeks. Otherwise there will be some pretty unhappy racers around.