Dragon's Tail 40m mile race

From April 3rd.
Dragon's Tail was a race I had heard about for years.  This race used to be Dragon's back, a race that was 25miles or so and took a long time to finish.  Chris Scott brought the race back as Dragon's Tail and made it longer 40miles but more like 37miles.

Jon W. from the team had talked about the race, and I was on the fence about going.  I was waiting to hear about the weather before committing.  Thursday came and weather looked ok so I was in.  I went down with John Rogers and Joel Wilson.  We went down on Sat. got some Thia food in downtown Roanoke which was good.  The boys went to bed early which was ok, but I woke at 3am for about an hour and listened to an audiobook to go to bed.
We drove about 30minutes to the start of the race, really low key, good vibe.  Chris Scott gave DCMTB a shout out since we had 10 riders there out of of a field of 50+.  The ride starts with a neutral roll out slightly downhill pavement to a dirt road.  Once we got to the dirt road the fast cats zoomed off the front.  I was riding around my teammates just keeping my cool.  The road went through 4 major stream crossings.  The first I waded through while the others I rode through. These were BB height, so your feet were soaking wet.  after the streams you start making your way up the mountain on the fire road.  I was in front of most of the DCMTB boys, with Ian and Mike T(the fast robots) in front.
Finally we get to the single trak, where there is an aid station with our drop off bags.  I have bad feet(they get cold easily) and knew about the streams so I had new shoes and wool socks in my drop bag.  I was glad I changed my shoes, but in doing so I lost 4-5 minutes.  In that time though the DCMTB crew came up to me and I then was riding with Erik Spar up the climb for a  bit.  I then was riding with 5th place female up some touch switchbacks.  I was actually going a little slower then I could have been going, but in retrospect this was a good thing because you need your energy later in the course.
Once on the ridge saw Chris Scott doing race coverage, and then riding with the 3rd place female.  I passed her on a big log hop.  I did not go crazy on the downhill just tried to enjoy it.  The downhill is big enough that my brakes started squealing at the bottom.  Once at the aid station I just filled up my bottle and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I was then going up the climb again, but since I knew the climb now I was going faster.  I passed Misty who was in 2nd place, and then later in the climb she and 3 other people ended up passing me cause my chain dropped.  As we were going up the 3rd place female was gaining on us.  I found out later she had broken her front brake line and was doing the downhills with only a back brake.
Once on the ridge again, we took a left this time.  This ridgeline is what makes Dragon's Tail.  The ridge is very steep so the views are pretty awesome.  Compared to other ridgelines this one goes up and down the whole time, and has many, repeat many steep pitches.  I was doing well and actually catching people on the ridgeline, using my power that I have up the steep ramps.  After awhile the 3rd place female must have passed Misty since she passed me on a incline where I had to walk.  As I saw her go up the trail I was thinking,"well that girl is a bad-ass"  I was doing well, but it was the early season form that was getting me, after 3 hours I lost that raw strength that have.  There were some false downhills, that had you climbing again.  I was damning Chris Scott at this point just lamenting in my head,"get me off this damn ridgeline!!!"  Finally it descended into a rest stop.
I wasn't there too long, but the next climb was the big disappointment for me.  This climb was very doable, but since I had used so much energy already I was on and off the bike the whole way up the climb.  I had seen the downhill of this climb on video, so it was cool when I finally was riding what I had seen.  
Once down off the mountain it was just a short road ride back to the start.

Random stuff:

  • Bring extra socks and shoes(I will bring my hiker-biker shoes next time since I had to walk so much)
  • Was happy with my 5:20 time best of the normal DCMTB riders, considering Ian got sub-4 hours
  • The day was beautiful mid sixties and completely clear skies
  • Great race vibe, stations, and post ride beer, and burgers!
  • Not sure I will do this again, but I think best to save yourself for the ridge line
  • The Anthem 29er was rocking the course, needed to let some air out of the shocks.
  • This is the hardest race I have done basically 35miles with 7200 feet of elevation.

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