classic... that's a good way to describe this race. one big 23 mile loop through twisty rooty (and ocassionally just a bit rocky) singletrack. having never seen any of the trails at fairhill, i had no illusions of doing well, so i treated this as a training ride: ride strong, but stay within my limits, work on pacing to try not to blow up. i took it relatively easy at the start and settled into a rythym then started picking off slower riders.
7 or 8 miles in on a fast grassy downhill the rider 10' in front of me wrecked, then through some combination of panic and hitting the same thing he did i wrecked in the same place and had the wind knocked out of me... i stood by the trail for a couple of minutes to get my breath back and check out my bike. back on the bike and after a couple of minutes i'm back in the swing of things... manage to pass some of the riders that came around me while i was on the ground. the trail just kept going and going, but the miles kept ticking off as we wound our way through the trees with little breaks on old degraded roads. by this point all of the classes were pretty mixed up and it was hard to tell who was racing who and i traded places a couple of times with a few riders.
by the end of the race i was pretty well spent. i was riding the steadily, but was a lot slower on the technical sections and starting to suffer on the climbs. 3 or 4 miles from the end joel came around me on a climb and decided to try to latch on to his wheel. having a friendly jersey to ride behind helped and i started to get a bit of a 2nd wind. joel crashed on the entrance to a bridge, i made it around him and continued on... my brother was waiting near the end of the course taking pictures, another little boost. hit the last section of the day - a short dirt road downhill, then a climb to the paved road to the finish - and pulled ahead of a singlespeeder i'd been riding near all day. at the top of the dirt road, just as i was about to hit the pavement and within a 50 yards of the finish my legs started to do what they'd been threatening to do for the past hour... all of the muscles in my legs started cramping at the same time. i shifted down and managed to limp the last few yards across the finish line and into the timing chute.
i finished in 2:22 for 6th place sport 30-34, but i'm not sure how many finishers there were. a long, hard morning, but a great course and a lot of fun - in that strange way that make mountain bike races fun.