The day started off cold and chilly, but without a cloud in the sky. This was the first Enduro ever where I had pre-ridden the course and my expectations were high. This was also the first race I had decided to ride without a backpack, so I had a spare tube taped to my toptube, a granola bar under the seat, and CO2 cartridge, tire levers, multi-tool, and phone (STRAVA!!) in my bib pockets.
Rick, Jeff, and I all met up in the parking lot to prep our bikes. It was so cold we all had full down puffs, hats and gloves on. After registering, we all sat around and talked while waiting for our group (sport) to start. I had calculated that if I won the race, I could podium for the series...so I was all concentration as I waited.
After almost an hour, they finally let us go. I fell in line behind the front runners as we made our way up Deerpoint Trail to Stage 1: "The Sweet, Bermy DH on ATM". The guy in front of me had a false start, so my stage was a little delayed. When I finally was able to go, I was all jittery and not feeling too good...so typical first stage for me. I ended up winded pretty quickly, got frustrated, pushed to hard around a corner and wrecked into a tree. I jumped back up, only losing 10 seconds or so, but needless to say it wasn't my finest stage ever.
Glad to have that one behind me, I took off for Stage 2: "The Fun Ain't Done Yet". I had previously achieved second overall on Strava for this stage, so I was pretty sure I could win it if I pushed myself. Out of the gate I felt pretty tired, and almost wrecked on one of the first berms. After that though, I fell into stride and felt super good. When I timed out, I was just behind the guy who had started almost 30 seconds ahead of me. I guessed I had made up for me wreck on Stage 1, but wasn't sure. This is a picture of me on this stage:
Stage 3 was terrible, following the well known "Morningstar" trail at Bogus that I have always struggled with. The first half of the stage felt really good - for sure my fastest time ever on that portion of the trail. This could only last so long forever... Coming out of the trees and sidehilling along one of the ski runs the trail crosses, I pegged a little tree stump with my pedal and vaulted headfirst off the bike. I recovered pretty quickly, but my bike was toasted. The dropper post cable had been dislocated, my chainguide was completely gone, and my chainring was bent to where it almost touched the frame. As I sat there looking at my bike, I new the race was over for me. There was nothing to do but finish the stage...which I did with the bike on my back. Two people passed me on my way down, so I figured I had lost at least a minute.
Thankfully, this dumped us back off at the parking lot where the race had begun, so I had access to all my tools and was able to fix my chainring enough to start the next stage. My chainguide was gone though and I was really worried about losing a chain. Also, my derailleur hanger was super bent and I was unable to straighten it well, so whenever I layed down the watts my chain would start skipping all over the place. At this point, I just wanted to finish the race however, so off to stage 4 I went.
Stage 4 ended up being my favorite stage. I was feeling no pressure as I knew I counldn't win, and my bike was really in no condition to be racing. As such, I was able to focus purely on carrying speed and form...a combination that I have always found makes me way faster than if I try to be fast. The stage starts off on "The Face" trail at the highest point on Bogus Peak, traverses under the Deerpoint Lift, and ends up coming down the same "Deerpoint Trail" we had ascended on the way to stage one. The route is basically the inner circle on the map below:
This stage felt really good. I was unable to push it, but felt pretty fast anyways. One of the highlights was that my chain stayed on until I timed out...at which point it literally fell off.
I turned off my Strava and this point and was surpised to find that I had KOM'd "The Fun Ain't Done Yet", and made it into the top 10 on several other trails. The only time I hadn't PR'd for the race was, of course, Morningstar. Turning in my timing chip, I realized I had tied for second place on stage 1 despite my crash, absolutely swept stage 2 by 11 seconds, and won stage 4 without a chainguide and bent derraileur hanger! I was stoked!
Although I ended up well off the podium for the day in 11th (I was a minute slower than the slowest people on Morningstar), I was well pleased with the results. I had a total of 1 stage win before this and was able to double that in a single race. I also learned that it's not really worth it to push yourself to the limit. If you're not fast to win at ~90% output, you probably won't win by pushing is further.
The day ended with beers and tacos provided for free by the race committee. Fantastic! I can't wait for next year.