Greenbrier Challenge

I have finally gotten all the Mud out of my eyes and the greenbrier challenge is over. I was not thrilled about doing this race, as I was still feeling bakers dozen a little bit. My only consolation was that I would be suffering with MattyD in the expert 30-39 age class. So Sara came with me again to a race, and I really appreciated the support. I get to the race start and luckily got a good parking spot because the early people had already left. Matt was right behind me, and he parked right next to me. I try to warm-up which I am never really good at. I feel that I am little under dressed with the weather being low 60’s and overcast. I decided to use a camel back and carry GU’s with me. I think it was the right choice too for me. The camel back is allot easier to deal with on the trail then trying to get to my bottle, and then have it fall out.
I had planned to not go crazy at the start and try and just follow Matt’s wheel. Well the start goes off, and I am sticking to my plan and the first climb was going up, and this climb was a good one for me, I was able to ride it at a steady tempo. I got stuck behind some people that I should have been in front of, but I was trying to play it cool and if I had something in me I would pass them later on. I had a slight bobble on the backside rocky section and lost a place there. I was riding with Jonathan. I had battled with him last year at the 12 hours of cranky monkey. Well I feel I was riding ok, but thinking this course is crazy technical, I knew once Matt went out of view I would not see him again. The course had too many fast down hills(which Matt can rock) and some hard tech stuff. I have improved greatly in my ability to ride hard terrain, but to race in it is quite a different story. The second climb on the first lap I did my biggest mistake; I didn’t get in my low gear before the hard climb. I then pushed the gear that I was in and that is where I tweaked my back. My back will sometimes hurt in the early season if I push too hard, so this is why I ride a compact on the road bike, and ride my granny allot on mountain bikes. I find spinning, doesn’t hurt my back as much and I usually don’t go that much slower. So after the first lap I settled down, maybe too much but I realized I had 3 more laps to do. I was in a very strong field and got see the 40-49 big guns pass me. Gunner, Roger Massi said hi as he passed. I was still picking off people here and there mostly from other groups. This course had some silly ass mud, I mean I have never raced where I was going through 12 inches of water. There was one drop-off that was like a foot then into a creak. I made sure to get my front up and just launch into the creek every lap. At one point I was following I think a pro woman on the downhill, and I thought I would catch her because of how much bigger I am, but she was rocking it, and I finally got her on the gravel road. The last lap came and I was still maintaining my position, and I kind of caught up to two riders in my class after the start/finish line. We were going up the climb and I can’t remember if I got in front or they did. But I was doing the rocky stuff, and I wasn’t riding it as smooth, since I wasn’t putting in the power. I was then behind the two guys for the second climb. I saw that I could catch them on that slow climb. So I down shift and spin into the tight left hand corner to the steep stuff. I was gaining on them, and I believe I passed both of them with Tom Fenush of Allied Milk behind me. I got some distance from him, but the mud on the trail was acting like glue to my tires, so I could never really gas it. Tom passed me somewhere there, we then had the slightly up hill rock garden, where I was spinning away, and starting to make up ground and I thought I might be able to get him before the downhill. We get to a flatter part and then another rider from the 40-49 group passed me and was in between us. I was now losing hope of getting in front of Tom. Before the sloppy downhill the other racer got in front of Tom, and I was riding somewhat near him on the down hill. We got to the gravel path by the lake, and I locked out my fork, just incase I got into a sprint situation. I was getting close to him now, and I thought maybe at the rise on the gravel road. Well he must have read my mind cause he stood up and jammed it up the rise, but not enough that I wasn’t right on his tail. So I was running out of trail, and I had one shot left, there is a left hand turn into this muddy grass slop then basically grass to the finish. I know I have power so I thought I could maybe beat him through the mud. I took the inside line in the Mud/grass and I put my hands on the bar ends and just gunned it. Tom saw the attack tired to stand and fight it, gave out a yowl and I think he didn’t have it. So I rode a little farther saw I had a gap and kept that to the finish. I ended up in 7th place which was better then I thought I would do.

Observations of the race:
I thought I would do worse since Matty said we would get our asses handed to us, and I knew it would be hard to beat him.

The bike was rocking it, I felt my bike was perfect for the course with dual suspension and 29er wheels. There was maybe one or two corners I had to navigate better, but the wheel size was helping big time with the rocks. Also I no flat tires, or any other mechanicals, my brakes were getting squishy at points later in the race.

The course had allot of standing water, but if it didn’t have that water my tires would have clogged up. The Maxxis Ignightor, Crossmark combo is a good one. Haven’t gone tubeless still deciding.

Need to dress warmer, I might have gotten sick from the cold water and having to clean myself in cold water, I was shivering at the wash area.

Good after ride meal with Sara, Mike, Tris, and Jonathan at HardTimes.

A shout out to the DCMTB team who had allot of riders out there today, and everyone putting in a good effort and some good results too.


Anonymous said...

Darren, Congrats to you and Matt on a tough day of racing in the slop. -Ryan

Chad said...

Very nice pictures. Great job!

Scott T. said...

Wow, I'm glad to hear someone who raced expert thought the course was crazy technical, because it owned my beginner self.