Monday, April 20, 2009

New Gear and Racing Dirt

First off I just wanted to send out a big thanks to my boys over at Lupine for supplying me with a new Betty head lamp and a cute little back up battery small enough to tape to my helmet. Aside from needing lights for endurance racing, my work schedule isn’t very friendly for daytime riding, so I’m pressed to do almost all of my training in the dark. So I really can’t thank these guys enough. Thursday was my first night out with Betty tearing up the trails at Blue Knob. As soon as it was dark enough, I reached up, turned her on, and low and behold the sun began to rise in the distance…. Not really, but just imagine how bright an LED head lamp with 1500 lumens is when most HID systems are around 900 lumens. It was an incredible experience as enough of my surroundings were lit up that the ride became no different than a ride in the day time. Ripping down singletrack at over 20 mph felt comfortable and I felt that the dark of the night had never held me back. I can’t wait to actually race with her… only a few more weeks until Dirt, Sweat, and Gears.

Fair Hill Race Report

Thinking back from last year, I was looking forward to this race being another suffer fest, a day in the pain cave, the hurt locker, or whatever else you want to call it. All the usual suspects were there, Jeff, both Chris’ (Eatough and Beck), Harlan, Aaron, Kyle, and just about every other fast dude in the Mid-Atlantic. I chilled at Kyle’s place the night before and caught a ride to the race with Kyle and his Uncle Harry. Arriving 3.5 hours before go time was a little early, but the boredom was short lived after everyone else began to show up. I went out and did a lap on the course with Martin and was digging the big wheels on my new 29er. After a good warm up I cruised around and just kept the legs moving until it was time for staging. I got in line right behind Eatough as I had no intentions of going for the hole shot. It would be a good mile or so before the course funnels into the first singletrack. Shortly after the gun went off, I began to ponder whether my winter/spring training would pay off. Everyone was so damn fast, and I had to fight hard just to stay within the top ten. I got into the first section of trail in 7th or 8th and moved into 4th as soon as the opportunities were given for me to make my passes. Jeff was leading followed by Harlan, Eatough, myself, and Beck. We drilled it at a steady tempo and broke away from the rest of the field halfway through the first lap and kept the pace steady through the second lap. Up until the third lap, I felt unusually comfortable, found it easy to stay hydrated, and raced smarter rather than harder. I planned to make my move right before the first singletrack on the last lap as I felt I had the legs to take the win. Instead Jeff attacked as soon as the last lap began, so it was race on. I grabbed my last lap coke and pinned it to try and catch on, but Jeff only pulled farther and farther away, so I returned back to a more steady pace and left Harlan and Chris to attack as I sat on. Soon after Harlan would trail off and Eatough slowly began to pull away, so I upped my pace again to keep Eatough in sight and keep Harlan at bay. Beck was still on my wheel and I knew it would be a hell of a battle between the two of us on the final lap. Throughout the rest of the lap I would keep my pace steady for the most part and launch small attacks whenever I heard Beck make a small mistake from behind, but I could never get rid of him. We came up on the last short steep hill on the course and I punched it, knowing that this was where Beck would attack. Barely making the pass he snuck ahead of me and it was time to ride his wheel until the final opening before the finish. Trailing him by about 5 yards it was a sprint to the finish, but our positions remained the same, Jeff took the win with Eatough in 2nd and Harlan behind in 5th. It looks like ’09 is going to be a great year, I can’t wait to see what it holds.

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