Click on it. Inspect it. Contact me. (photo: Craig Mello)
What went right.
The only thing I knew about this course was that everyone said it was incredibly technical and that it would destroy you. Drama queens. It really isn't that bad. There are a few tough rock gardens, but you can keep the speed up, and the flow steady for most of the race. Regardless, I showed up with my bike in full-on rock crawler mode. I dug out my only pair of actual UST tubeless tires, at about 750 grams each, they are about as burly as a xc tire gets. Aired down the fork, opened up the shock, and was running super low tire pressure. This set up was slow and heavy, but it was perfect for the course, and made the race super fun.
What went wrong.
1) Online registration said three laps for the elite race. Dude yelling at the start line said four laps. Trying to split three bottles into four with only a tire lever, CO2, tube, and about 90 seconds is... um..... difficult.
2) I was lost the entire time. There were two grassy switch-backy parts, two long un-rideable rock gardens, and you went through the start/finish area twice. After I grabbed my last bottle with two laps to go, I had a hard time figuring out where in the lap I was, what lap I was on, which rock garden I was rolling up to, and how much longer I had to go. Everything looked the same.
3) I couldn't shake Thom. Fucker just sat behind me and talked shit for the longest time. It's hard to race when you're laughing. His pedal eventually exploded, and I got away. Two minutes later...
4) I couldn't shake Colin. Fucker just sat behind me closing every 10 second gap I opened. Most of those gaps were opened while off the bike, sprinting around stalled out lapped riders. I could write an entire post about how insane lapped traffic was making me. After about a solid hour of running into the rear tires, brushing elbows, and creating my own cheater lines, I broke. Completely out of the race mentally. Right about that time Colin closes another micro-gap and I think I muttered something about punching lapped riders in the face. Sensing my fragile psyche, Colin opens up a gap of his own. I thought nothing of it, he just closed about 30 of my 10 second gaps, I'll just ride this out then pass him. A few minutes, I heard finish line cheering off in the distance (see: item 2, above). That crafty bastard.
5) I really can't overstate how much of an effect lapped traffic had on this race. It's like if you released 500 sheep onto a nascar track. At that point you're trying not to kill others more than anything else. I can't race cautiously.
What did I learn.
1) Colin has internal GPS.
2) Heavy bikes are hard to run through rock gardens with.
3) EFTA needs a common sense consultant.
9 of 17. Solid, considering this course did not exactly play to my strengths. Video is here.