It was the best race of the year. Competition coming out of the trees! Competing against each other for the fastest times, competing against individuals on other teams and the team competition as well. We had 2 flat tires and 4 crashes and still we were in it till the end. It was exciting, it was challenging, it was hard and it was a great time. Kona was the big sponsor but all the bike shops were there and Goneriding put on a great event. The course was fast but it was also challenging. It forced you to ride a smart lap or it could eat you up. The challenges to overcome were the cold air, the wind, the early climbs that could blow you up because they were followed my middle climbs, late climbs and finishing climbs. The traditional long climbs up the rock covered trails and clay hill climb.In between the climbs were fast twisting singletrack that we referred to as the autobahn because it was flat out hauling $%%%#@ in your big ring swooshing between the trees. One of our riders clipped a handle bar on a tree during lap #12 and it was the end for our chances to podium as we fell from #2 to #4, un-officially ( 5minutes behind#3) on that lap. Still no complaints. The weather could have been worse becaue we had a small downpour of rain 1.5 hours after the race ended. We all ended doing 3 laps each, The Idster did the last lap for us and he rode 4 laps.
I was the first out of the gate and did the run in the beginning. It was hard to finish the run as I wanted to pull up after the last turn and entered the final stretch for the bikes. I was able to run through many many runners who were in front of me at the bike racks and I entered the single track with a small jammage to contend with. I pushed past a couple of riders easily ( the experience from the race season came into play) and worked my way up along the side of the single track until we reached the field. As we approached the drop that I crashed on during the last race of the season last year it was dejavu as the riders had dismounted and were waiting to go down the short steep drop. The riders were 2 -3 abreast and everyone was yelling to keep moving. I dismounted and pushed my way up between the riders and with my left foot on the pedal (not even clipped in) I jumped down the hill and swung my right leg over the bike bike at the same time and blew past 6 -7 riders. This is where I crashed during last years race and ended up the second from last rider on the course. This time I was more ready for whatever was to happen and I just blew through it all. I caught up with the line of riders in front of me and we rode it out the rest of the way. The line started to disperse after about 2-3 miles and it wasn't that tight for the rest of the lap. The cold air was a force to be reckoned with. I couldn't catch my breath once during the entire lap. The whole ten miles plus I was gasping for short breaths of air. That was difficult because it was hard to recover and the whole lap was a constant battle to keep going. The second lap was the same as the air was too much for the lungs to handle. Even after the lap was done and sitting back at the campsite recovering, that cold air in the lungs was not going away. Anyways, I did what I needed to do for lap one and that was to be quick enough on the run to beat the major jammage. I couldn't believe it actually because I was running at the 3/4 point in the pack but once we reached the bike racks everybody seemed to take too long to get on there bikes and ride. I just ran through everybody at the end and it was the big difference. For our unofficial times I came in 1 minute behind the winning team Pure Energy and 2 minutes behind Aj's, Ken Veda. We were expecting me to be as far as 6 minutes behind them so we were stoked that I was as close as I was.
The race continued and Pure Energy continued there domination over the beginning teams and was slowly pulling away. AJ's Darren had a derailleur hanger break and that cost them 20 minutes plus and they fell way back. I heard they fought there way back and finished as high as 6'th place. Have to wait for the results to look at all the times and standings. We stayed in the top 2-3 place most of the race. The Original Ellsrider rode hard and gave us 2'nd place after lap #11. Graham went out next and had a flat tire and then while trying to recover from the lost time of the flat, he crashed hard. He finished the lap to his credit and we were able to get one more lap in. No glory for us on this cold February weekend in Florida. The champs remain the champs and we have to put up with it for one more year. They have their dynasty now, 3 years in a row. We have the memories of what was and what could have been. The trophies were really nice. I want one!
The weekend was fantastic. It was a beautiful day on Friday. We arrived at noon and set up camp. For me that consisted of unloading my van setting up the coleman stove and organising the clothes and food. I slept in the van with a small mattress and sleeping bag. For me it was very comfortable. I turned on the van at 3.40 am and ran the heat for 20 minutes to warm the interior back up to 75* and awoke on saturday morning to a warm fire. Everything was coated with a heavy frost and I was a little concerned about the seals on the bike but everything was ok. Saturday was little warmer than Friday and wasn't that bad of a day as long as you stayed in the sun. Our camp was pretty efficient as we had two tables, two canopies, two stoves, lots of firewood and we set up our own toilet/changing area. For the race we had a portable generator were making smoothies after each lap was finished. This helped me alot as I didn't eat that much else during the race. My smoothie consisted of a banana, large amount of whey protein, a recovery drink package (heed?) honey, orange juice, berry frozen concentrate, ribose and emerg en C packets. Not bad for out in the field. Tons of people all over the place as we had friends and relatives drive up to cheer us on.
Un-officially, The Original Ellsrider is the fastest member of the team. He will be rewarded with the same priveleges and respect that was given me for the last year as I had the fastest times on our team last year. The other iders could have been faster but the only thing that counts is the official time posted by Goneriding. If you crashed or had a mechanical it doesn't give you any break in the scoring. The scoring time is the scoring time. This was great needling points for me last year as I was the slowest rider but because I ran the cleanest laps with no problems, I ended up being the fastest rider. The Idster won't like this again for another year but will have to live with it. Put this one in the books. Squiggy anyone?