Early Sunday morning I put the D.U.F.F. on the Suburban and headed towards Grand Rapids. I swung off the highway by Gun Lake Casino and picked up Mark and Jeff. Then we started the nearly 3 hour journey to Bellaire, MI. The further north we got the darker the clouds got. Checking the weather in the week leading up to this race I was curious how it would end. 60's and a 50% plus chance of rain....we took our chances. By Cadillac we were wondering if we made the right choice. As the skies opened for the first time I really started to question my decision to pre-register. Then the sun broke through the clouds. Then it rained again. Then...we arrived in Bellaire.
|The sun broke through the clouds when we go to Bellaire.|
When we got to the school for registration the skies were partly cloudy. It was actually kind of chilly. But perfect racing weather. From the reports we had about trail conditions we figured the trail would be solid and fast. After double checking tire pressures we headed up the first climb of the course to warm up. Knowing I had 2 laps I wanted to stash my second bottle. The first climb is about .8 miles long and not crazy steep. We just rode a casual pace up the hill and found the parking lot where the trail starts. I dropped my bottle and we watched a few Expert\Elite riders fly thru and then we headed back down to the start area.
I made my last minute preparations and headed to the start area. As we were lining up some people were bombing down the hill towards the finish. It looked fun and I was looking forward to that section. Then it was time to start. There was 9 Clydes galloping up the hill at the start. I jumped on a wheel and planned to hold on as long as I could. That worked out for a bit....as I kept the pack in sight for most of the climb....and then they disappeared into the woods. Once on the singletrack, I started to find out what the trail was going to be like. It seemed like the entire trail was bench cut out of the side of the hills. I was able to push myself harder than I have in recent rides. I was feeling pretty good, but wasn't going very fast. I kept catching glances of Ted up ahead of me, and then another guy in our class that was between us. I kept the pressure on my body and did my best to hold on....but eventually I had to ease up.
As I eased up I started to settle into my pace. I was realizing how awesome the terrain was that I was riding on. The hills were crazy steep but the trail wasn't. The trails cut across the hills so it wasn't bad riding. It was cool to be able to see people weaving up the hill and passing me going the opposite direction up above my head. The trail was awesome. I started getting a lot of traffic passing me but it wasn't a big deal. I was enjoying the ride.
I finally saw the parking lot and was happy to see the start of my second lap. I knew traffic would be gone and I could just ride my ride. I stopped and swapped bottles then headed back up the trail. I was really comfortable. Riding at what felt like a solid pace I kept spinning away. The miles ticked by and I was still enjoying the ride. Then I saw the parking lot again. After a short trip jaunt down the hill I made the right hander to head to the finish line. The last section was downhill for 1.5 miles....on pavement. I pushed as hard as I could and was absolutely trucking. I hit 37.4 mph on that descent. Brent was at the corner cheering me on as I flew past. GO GO GO. I quickly got to the last section of road and rolled thru the finish banner. I took 9th....but apparently a guy didn't do both laps....so he got a DNF and I moved up to 8th. I will take it....because it was just a fun ride overall.
Mark flatted but still finished with a 13th place. Jeff had a great ride and took 5th place in his class. The trip home was full of laughter. It was a great day with friends and teammates on a trail I had never ridden before. Next up is Maybury TT this coming Sunday. All I will do is ride and see what happens.....and gauge my ride on how I feel and not on where I finish. Should be interesting!