Tough competition! I battled it out with Jeffrey Carter the entire race. This will definitely be one of the most memorable battles in a race I have had moving around between 2nd and 4th many times throughout the race for 100 miles with a close finish.
Rode the singlespeed with 32/18 gearing fully rigid (no suspension) and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires. Not sure about the rigid fork decision. It seemed okay but obviously slowed me down on the descents where I usually am strong. On the singletrack uphills I was catching back up without any problems. Where I thought it would help me out was on the road but the steep washboard sections were pretty bad. Next time I would go with a front fork and 32/19. Not sure if it would be faster but it would definitely be funner!
All the racers lined up at 6am in Bailey Colorado for the mass start which immediately climbed out of town on a road. My gearing was tough for the climbs but I was fresh and passing large groups of geared riders. By the time we hit the Colorado Trail singletrack I was in 3rd place and feeling good. The singletrack was fast and I continued passing geared racers. About an hour into the race I spotted another singlespeeder ahead of me on a climb. They're the ones with a cadence of 40 on the steep climbs. That turned out to be Jeffrey Carter. At the rate I caught up to him I thought it wouldn't be long before I had a significant lead on him but he came right back and pass me again.
We went back and forth like that for the remainder of the race. Every time I though I had some distance on him he showed back up. At about 45 miles into the race Jeff was bombing down the hill making time on me while I dropped behind getting pounded with the rigid front fork. After stopping to empty my bladder which was getting punished at every bump I hesitated at an unmarked turn to make sure I was going the correct direction and Andrew Carney showed up and passed me. This put me into 4th. It looked like he had an easier gear than me which worked well for that section.
When the trail leveled out I ate some food while riding and had to stop twice and pickup a bunch of stuff that flew out of my feedbag. I caught back up and passed Andrew and Jeff which put me back in 2nd. I felt great in the next section of singletrack and Jeff was right behind me and Andrew had dropped back out of site.
After a huge decent on a number of steep switchbacks down to the Sough Platte river at mile 56 there was an aid station with our drop bags. I almost didn't stop but there was a bottle of Hammer HEED in my bag that sounded much better than all the water at the other aid stations so I stopped to get it which ended up taking more time than it was worth. Unfortunately for us, during this optional pit, Andrew didn't stop and blew by us (we found out at the end). Andrew must have really made some time there. When Jeff and I got started you could see a long distance down the road and Andrew was not in site. I started to suspect that Andrew didn't pit but I thought we would be able to catch him on the road with our higher gearing. Jeff and I stayed together on most of the road section. About a mile before the big climb just after Deckers I noticed Jeff had fallen back and once again I thought I might have dropped him for good and I was in 3rd.
The climb over Stoney Pass was steep and tough with my gearing. At the top of the first climb Jeff caught back up to me and passed me once again. We were together until the next climb where he gained some distance on me. The remaining 10 miles I could always see him and was able to get closer behind him but then he would pull forward again. I could see him constantly looking back at me and I was giving everything I had to try and pass him but didn't get the chance the rest of the race.
I rolled across the finish in 4th just after Jeff and a geared rider and learned that 1st and 2nd were a short distance in front of us. Andrew had passed Mark Thompson right before the finish. Mark Thompson had lead the entire race only to be passed at the end. Tough finish! Andrew Carney rode a strong race. Nice finish Andrew!
They had free food, beer and a band playing along the river at the finish. Nice! It was a great race. The logistics were a little difficult since the pre-race meeting, race start, camping (Friday night only), race parking, and the race finish were all in a different, drive to, locations. It was all worth it and the fact that the race benefited kids was great!
|I'm chasing Jeff through the burn area on some sweet singletrack|
|6am at the start. A bit chilly|
|The bike setup|