Third time doing this. 25-29X is always in the first wave off. Started 2nd row and worked my way into the front early on. Frost covered leaves kept everyone on there toes. I took the lead before the first singletrack and started setting tempo. With a light 34:16 I knew I wasn't going anywhere for a while. Plan was to ride smart until the end. Plans went out the window when we hit a fast road section about halfway through. I drifted back to third wheel to let some big ringers do the heavy lifting. Keeping tight and following blind the rider in front of me hits a pothole which I instantly hit, simultaneously tagging his rear wheel. Bars are out of my hands and I know the race is over before I hit the ground and barrel roll/slide off nearly 30mph of momentum. Someone from behind runs over my bike and goes down, thankfully I'm spared. By time we untangle the mess the lead group is gone. Get back on, bike seems fine but my left knee feels jacked, ankles sore and right calf is bruised like a mother. Being in the middle of nowhere, riding it off is the only option. A few miles and pretty sore, pedaling octagons I pick off a few stragglers. Still grinding through at Williamsburg road, shortly after a group appears in the distance. If I play my cards right maybe I can gain a moneyspot or two in the hills. Chip away. On the flats it seems like they're sitting up, so I'm not sure if its the lead or a chase group. If I can make contact... let's not get too optimistic. All it takes are a few 29r friendly inclines and I'm thrust back into the group. Game on! I feel it out for a mile or 2 before going up to the front. After what happened earlier, thats where I was most confident. 6 to go, too early. The 4stroke enduro ahead confirms our lead status! 3 to go. The group is widdled down from 15 to 8. Legs are still dull from the chase. 2 to go, still covered, hold off a challenge for the last singletrack. Final mile, I know the last climb and make it hurt for all its worth, opening a 4-5sec gap coming into the campground. Block out the pain and bring it home!! Really has to be about the sweetest $350 I ever made!
Immediately afterwards I started to tighten up as the midrace drama was settling back into my legs. Took the first bus back to get the car and returned in time to catch Claire roll in for a nice 6th place and hear about Russell's clydesdale domination. Actually, Wisco faired quite well all around. Matter killed the the pro race with Tristan 4th and Jesse and Marko 5th and 7th. I look forward to an ass kicking next year.
This race topped off an extraordinary year for me. WORS top 5 overall, 24 Hour Duo National Championship with Jerry Daanen, Beechwood Blaster win and Iceman. Couldn't be better! Thanks Don for the entry, Hayes Bicycle Group for everything, Voodoo, Ergon, all the great people I've met this year and everyone whose supported me. Thanks a ton!