After getting beat up on by the big diesels at the South of Connellsville crit, I decided to ditch the asphalt for dirt and head up to Big Bear for the Big Bear Lake Mountain Bike Classic. With a brand spankin’ new Cannondale Flash carbon 29er from Pathfinder with me, I toed up at the line in the Pro/Expert race with teammates Nate Annon and Robbie Loehr. The race started with a short but technical prologue which went down through the valley, back up out, and brought us back through the start/finish where a 30 dollar prime waited for the first rider through. Not being a great technical rider, I had no interest or ambition to attempt the prime. So, I sat in and rode my own pace trying not to get too hung up on any super technical gnar.
As I came through the start finish, I would guess I was sitting around 13th or so but was super excited where I was considering the section of trail we had just gone through. The next section of trail took us out towards the damn and was pretty smooth rolling double track. Being more of a power, endurance rider rather than handling and skill oriented, I decided to make a move and pull off a few passes here and try to move myself up towards the front before we hit the single track and passing became more difficult to find. I must have been in around 8th at this point and was feeling pretty good when I found teammate Robbie Loehr’s wheel. Know that Robbie is a far better technical rider than myself, I stayed right on his wheel and followed his line through the single track. As we continued to roll through the woods, I noticed one of the Rowand boys up ahead about a mile from the climb. Robbie, either knowing I was a decent climber or the fact that I was super energetic for my first mountain bike race of the year, told me to get up there and pass Rowand on the climb. I took a few good digs and got myself up to Rowand’s wheel nearly at the base of the climb. Standing up in front of me like a wall, I grabbed for a lower gear and attacked the climb. About mid way up the behemoth, I noticed an opportunity to make a pass on Rowand and did, putting in a good 30-second effort to gap him by a bike length or so. As we crested the top, I looked back to see I had held the gap but knew I would have to ride my ass off to keep it. Unfortunately, After keeping him behind me for a few miles of double track we hit some technical singletrack and I dabbed out giving him a smooth passing opportunity. However, I was still in 7th place at that point and had no plans of forfeiting another position. Setting myself at a good tempo pace, I cruised down the gnarly rock infested downhill into the valley and climbed back out. My feet did get a little wet in the stream at the bottom, which ticked me off. But, luckily I had on my Swiftwick socks which ,I am sure, kept me a lot more comfy than the other soggy footed riders.
Coming out of the woods and across the dam into the last 2 or so miles, I had a long enough sight range to look back and see if anyone was within 30 to 45 seconds of me. Not seeing anyone back there, I set a smooth, safe pace and cruised on home to the finish. As I came through the finish in 7th place, I was a little bummed that the race was over and I had to hang the mountain bike up for a while but, at the same time, my screaming legs where super happy to be done for the day.