Sunday morning broke with a cool crisp chill in the air, indigo blue skies, and the promise of a wonderful day of racing.
The annual cross country race at Mohican forest, a 24.5 mile stretch of rolling to hilly single track, is always an anticipated venue, due to it's length, flow, and beautiful scenery. Steve and Jeff were committed to racing; Steve as this is his "home" course and Jeff because he wants to finish well in the series to secure an entry into the Iceman Cometh race in a few weeks. Carey choose to bow out of this competition to taper into the final Groovy/Neo race on Saturday, where he will have to come out swinging against Jeff Cochran, if not for the series title, but for pride in defending his home turf :) Kalten, feeling pretty sick and puny, was coming along for the ride but had no designs on racing, as the fall cross country running season had left him injured with little time on the bike.
Christi left first thing in the morning for a weeks vacation in West Virginia, so Em had little choice but to come along as I am single parenting all week.
We arrived early and set up the tent and maintenance equipment so that we would have an opportunity to go over the guys rides before the race. Surprisingly, both Steve and Jeff had not done anything stupid to their bikes in the last week, and I had little to do. Gotta admit, I give both of them a hard time, but they have both really come a long way in their maintenance and prep this season, well done guys ;)
While wrenching on bikes, Jeff somehow convinced Kalten that as long as he is here, with his bike, it would be a shame not to race; soon we had three horses at the line.
The Expert race was gonna be a barn burner, with many of the top guys showing up to play in the sunshine...Steve, Jeff, Dave Walker, Tim Carson (good to see you back after such a looong recovery!), Kyle Spisak, Dave Hall, Chip Meek, plus a host of southern boys I rarely get to meet. I really missed seeing Brad Wilhelm line up, as he is out with a broken hand (heal fast bud). The guys were off at a moderate pace, exchanging glances on the run in to the single track to determine who was gonna be the test rat out front for the first major climb. You can see who took up the torch.
Stevie pacing the bunch into the first single track and the subsequent climb...
Steve was riding like a soaring hawk...pedaling effortlessly and really tearing up the course. Jeff was two minutes back, and facing a physical battle of his own, fighting off some dehydration and the onset of the race bonk with Tim and Dave making up time as the trail wore on. In the end, the order did not change, Steve capturing the win with a new course record, Jeff gutting it out and finishing three minutes back.
Back at the finish line, I caught up to Kalten, who complained of constant snot and coughing throughout the race. "I felt terrible...don't think I did very well." Too bad, but at least he toughed it out. My empathy evaporated once the results were posted and he was in first, little bugger.
Looking forward to Saturday for the final Groovy/Neo race,
Photo credits to Justyna and Jymi, thanks guys