Blast the Mass!

A success full weekend of racing that the Blast the Mass MSC race weekend. Nick raced in the singlespeed class for both the short track and the cross country. He had an awesome weekend with his one gear, winning both races! First wins in the MSC races for Nick and this was a brutal course for a single speed. My cross country race also went well, winning the 30-39 Cat 1 women's race. The riding was challenging and loads of fun.

I decided to just race the cross country because of the timing with Beaver Creek. So I got to play professional spectator while Nick raced the short track. This was a difficult course for short track - a long, nasty climb, then a fast descent into two sketchy left hand turns. All Cat 1 men and singlespeed men started together in a large group. On the first corner just after the start, Nick's chain dropped. He lost the group as he got the chain back on, then had to chase the field. It took him two laps, but he managed to close the gap between him and the leading singlespeeder. At this point, the corner was getting really sketchy. I saw a few guys nearly wipe out and a lot of dust flying. After Nick finished the short track, it was time for the Pros. Since one of the other Feedback Sports riders was in that race, we hung out to watch Jason. And as usual, the Pros got the worst weather possible. Despite starting early, they had to deal with rain, hail and mud. The officials rang the bell twice - sending more confusion into the pro race. A 20+3 lap short track turned into 15 minutes for the pro men. Jason hung tough despite the conditions.

On Sunday, it was time for the cross country. Little did I know that the start gaps between me and Nick (about 15 minutes) would be the difference between a pleasant ride with thunder and rainbows in the back ground and getting soaked and pounded with hail. As a single speeder, Nick got to start right behind the pro men. I wished him good luck and waited for my turn to head up the hill. And what a hill it was. I was in my granny gear for the first road climb. Finally, the course turned on the single track and a slightly less steep slope. The trail meandered through aspens and pine trees and fields of wildflowers. We crisscrossed under the ski lift a number of times, giving the downhillers taking the easy way up plenty of times to cheer us up the hill. After the long climb, it was time to traverse the mountain. I was happy to have pre-ridden this section, as the roots and rock gardens made things pretty challenging. I caught one of the 20-29 riders just before we joined the downhill course. As expected, the downhill course was little chewed up and I took it pretty easy around some of the more rooty corners. Coming off the downhill, and it was time to make the turn for the long loop. At this point the clouds were starting to build ominusly in the background.

I'm not sure why the steep downhill trail was called "Anaerobic Nightmare." Maybe if you were trying to climb it, but we were headed straight down. A screaming fast, wide open down hill. I got my weight back, pointed the bike downhill and let the bike fly. Fun! A sharp left hand turn at the end of the dowhill and it was back to undulating single track through the aspens. I was riding pretty much alone at this point because of the huge start gaps. The trail was nice, fast and smooth. The clouds were getting darker, but I chose to ignore them. Back through the start/finish line and it was time to start the climb all over again. Back into the granny gear I went!

One of the women from the 40+ age group caught me on the long climb. I thought about just letting her go, then decided that I need to try to stay on her wheel. Did a pretty good job of limiting the loss on the climb, just upping the tempo a little and picking up the pace. At this point, the clouds were beyond ignoring. To the east, there was a wave of rain and thunder. The wind was picking up (uphill into a head wind on the mountain bike - so much fun) and I was starting to feel the small hail stones. Amazingly, the downpour did not come to pass - at least not on my side of the mountain. As I started the Cross Mountain Trail, evidence of the rain was everywhere. The rocks and roots - already challenging - were now rain soaked and slick. I could feel my rear tire slipping in some of the rock gardens. By the time we took the turn for the short loop to drop down the Powerline trail, there was nothing dry anywhere. The trail was a ribbon of mud about four inches deep. I was happy I had real tires on my Era because staying on the trail was starting to prove challenging. I was very carefully making my way around the switchbacks and could still feel my bike sliding around in the mud. My glasses were mud splattered, my legs were covered in mud and my jersey was a nice shade of brown. There was no shifting left. I was middle middle and not moving from there because of how dirty my bike was. On the last section of single track, I noticed the piles of hail stones on the sides on the trail. No wonder the trail was so muddy - that wall of rain had pounded this area of the mountain.

Finally, I finished slip sliding around and finished the race. Despite the mud, that was a true blast! A challenging course with a good reward for the climb. I found out that Nick had gotten caught in the rainstorm and had been beat up by the hail I'd seen on the side of the trail. He'd already cleaned off his bike, but he was freezing. Time to head up to the condo! It took ten minutes to clean my bike and it's still a little dirty. As for my jersey and shorts - lets just say that we should have taken the "dog friendly" gondola up! Despite Nick spraying me off, I was still completely filthy. Unfortunatly, I have no photos of the mud bath!

Comments

  1. You two rock!!!! Congratulations, you both really deserved to be standing at the top of the podium with all of the hard work and dedication you have been puting into your riding (plus swiming and running Tracy)this year. Hope this trend continues. I am so happy for both of you.

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