Sage and the Notch

In Gunnison at last and it's time for the 24 Hours in the Sage. Nick and I did our usual Thursday afternoon pre-ride just to remind us of the fun that awaits in Hartman Rocks. Dave Weins marked the course and it's pretty much the same as the last few years - just one little reroute to get us onto single track sooner. There is a tricky little rock face right at the top of the climb, and a feature I'll call the punch bowl. Nick showed me the line - its all rideable. I just have to trust my skills, my bike and my tires to stick to the rock. Then it's all the same - the rolling trail Behind the Rocks, the climb up and descent off Alonzo's, the meandering false flat of Luge into the more noticeable climb up Broken Shovel leading to the uber fun flowing ride down Sea of Sage. All really fun and trails I'm comfortable on.

Then comes the last third of the lap. I stuck on Nick's wheel for the start of Rocky Ridge. I knew I could make the first half of the trail. I'd cleaned that section every lap last year, on my Era. But there was that right left - right rocky turn that I'd made once last year. And the rock slap that I'd tried durning the pre ride last year and flubbed. I was dreading those two sections, hoping I'd see improvements in my technical skills. But also realistic - knowing that I'd been struggling in that area for three years. First the left-right turn. And a little throwing around of the bike and wheel and I made it around the rock, clear to start the little descent. Yay! No time to celebrate - the rock slab was next. I made the u-turn and approached the slab. Slight pull up on the bars, weight forward just a little and steady on the power. And I was up and over! Double yay!

Last obstacle on my was to a clean lap. The Notch. I've made it further up every year, getting the left hand turn into the Notch once. I've also crashed hard on the descent - twice. So that whole section of trail actually scares me. I approached the rock climb to the Notch, mentally rehearsing my lines. Up the rock, stick close to the trees on the second rock, look, pull the wheel around. And I almost made it - over shot the turn just a little, but made it past the left hand turn. Still had to walk the steps. But climbed back on and made a smooth run down. Weight back, no front brake, look and stay loose. Whew. One more time down the Notch. Just have to make it a few more times between now and Sunday! Here's to a great race!


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