Monday, June 3, 2013

Hanson Hills XC Challenge Mountain Bike Race

If you never been on the trails at Hanson Hills, do yourself a favorite and go! These trails are fast and flowy. With a fair amount of climbing and enough technical sections to keep your fingers on the brakes! Since doing this race last year, I was looking forward to getting on that sweet single track again. So I loaded up the car and made the 3 hr trek up north to Grayling.

When I left my driveway, I had on shorts and t-shirt. It was about 67 degrees and looking to be a great day for racing. When I arrived and opened my car door, it was 43 degrees and windy! What the hell? How could there be such a difference only a few hours north? Oh well, I thought and suited up. I soon found myself on the line waiting to go off with the rest of the Elite/Expert Single Speeders. I only recognized Steven Blake, who I knew was the one I needed to mark as he was last years winner. I never seen any of the other guys. Which is always the case in a single speed race. There are always some one coming out of the wood work to spoil the day. And that is usually the case.

We got our count down and we were off! We took off onto the long 2 track flat section all spinning our single ring cranks around 130 RPMs! Steve took the hole shot and I followed. We hit the single track and the course then tilted up. We climbed hard and already were picking off several folks that started in classes ahead of us. The pace was hard, but I was comfortable. Near the end of the 1st lap, Steve, myself and one other guys I never seen before had put a huge gap into the rest of the single speed class. We began the 2nd lap and I was still in 2nd place. Then the guy behind me jumped ahead. Not a big deal. I followed and we soon caught a large group of 40-49 yr old guys. Steve was able to get around and the guy in front of me forced his way around as well. I was stuck behind a group of 5 as the trail got more technical, and I lost my place to pass. I struggled a bit to get around as the trail would not open up, and Steve and the guy chasing were growing a lead. Damn it I thought. I tried to get around a few times but got boxed out by trees. Then the guy that was tailing Steve made his move to take the lead. There was nothing I could do. I finally got around the group I was stuck in and had to work to bridge my way back up to Steve. I could no longer see the leader, and I lit a few matches trying to get back on. So now was not the time to try and attack and find the leader. We finished the 2nd lap and I was still feeling strong. Steve appeared to be struggling a bit up the long climb on the back of the ski hill at the end of the loop. I thought I need to get in front, lead the lap, and attack him on this last climb to claim 2nd place. Plan was set and I was ready to roll.

We crossed the start/finish area of the race for the 3rd and final lap. I pulled around Steve in the beginning 2 track. I lead the entire lap trying to keep the pace high, but conserving energy for the last climb. As we hit the base of the last climb, I accelerated and pushed my 1 gear for all it was worth! I could still hear Steve behind me. As we approached the summit, my legs were filled with lactate acid, Steve started to pull around and passed me. I thought I was done, there was my chance. I hit the summit, and realized that he may have put in too big of an effort himself as I was able to latch back on his wheel quickly. There was still a chance if I played my cards right. All that was left was some fast and bumpy whoop-de-doos, a 90 degree turn out of the woods and a white knuckle decent down the face of the ski hill into the finish. We made it through the whoop-de-doos, and came up to the last turn. To my surprise, Steve biffed the turn to early and started to go off the trail! He tried to correct it by cutting off the corner and getting back on the course. When this happened. I accelerated as hard as I could through the turn, and took every risk I could to use max speed down the hill. With a little luck, and not giving up I turned a given 3rd into 2nd place.

Great job Steven and thanks for another awesome battle!

Congrats to Jordan Wakely for 1st in Elites! Jason Bowne for 2nd in Expert 30-39

And Congrats
to my Team Mate Jordan for taking his first win in a Mountain Bike Race!

Thanks Mike's Mix for fueling me through another race! This stuff is awesome!

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