Thursday, October 29, 2015

Duo Racing 2015 Recap, Part 2: The Big Bear 2x12 Mountain Bike Relay

Just two weeks after a win at the Mountain State Dirty Double, Derek and I thought we would test our skills on a little fatter tires over considerably rougher terrain, The Big Bear 2x12 Mountain Bike Relay.  Two days before the race we headed up to Big Bear Lake campgrounds in Hazelton, WV for a pre-ride of the course.  The course was in excellent condition...dry and fast...just the conditions that I prefer to race.  However, the weather for race day would be a different story.   After rains set in all day Friday and Saturday morning, the course was going to be less than desirable.   While checking in at the venue, we recognized only one of the fifteen teams that we would compete with in the Men's Veterans category--Scott Benson and Gerry Pflug.   My initial though was "Oh, Craaaap".   These two gentleman are fast and have a strong resume of wins on mountain bikes.  Although they showed up with fat bikes, anyone would be foolish to think that they would be slow.

Derek lined up at the starting line for our first lap.    After a long gravel climb to thin the pack, Scott entered the woods ahead of us.    It was clear that the course was going to be muddy as the lead racers crossed the far end of the airstrip race venue 1-2 miles into the race with team uniforms that were barely recognizable.  At the end of that first lap, Derek had a lead on Scott and all other veteran teams.   However, Scott was not far behind, rolling up the cross-over bridge as Derek was exchanging the baton to me.

In the first few miles after I began my lap, I was surprised at how muddy the course was--worse than I had ever ridden it over the past 10 years.  But, I was more concerned that Pflug would be effortless rolling by me any minute.  In fact, I probably had as much difficulty staying on course due to continuously looking over my shoulder for him as I did with the mud.  As luck would have it, I held on to that lead and finished the first lap ahead of him.

So, Derek was off again for another amazingly fast lap in the worsening muddy conditions, finishing in the lead, and leaving me once again for a lap of muddy paranoia.  Fear of being chased down kept me moving on the first lap.  But, would fear be enough to keep me moving as fast while considerably more tired on the second lap?  As I motored on, slipping and sliding, I began to forget that I was being chased down.  The racers were more spread out.  I didn't see anyone behind me, or in front, for miles.    Then, all of a sudden I heard the sandy, grinding sound of a drivetrain closing in fast.  Adrenaline kicked in... but only for a moment as I soon realized the passerby was one of the pro/ex leaders.  A couple of miles later, I managed to roll through the finish in the lead, giving Derek and I a nice 2nd win for 2015.