The best group of people I've ever been involved with for any sport or activity put on the second annual Middlefork XC (non)race this weekend.
First, if you've never been to Middle fork and live within 4-5 hrs, you owe it to yourself to head down there. Here is a link to some garmin data:
In terms of the day and the people that were involved, I was one that got to reap the benefits of my teams hardwork, without putting much effort into organizing the thing. That must change. Non-races are free events that may or may not be timed and can be taken as seriously as one wants. I'd say most of the people there yesterday let leash the same level of effort towards the ride as they normally would toward a mountain bike race...so for all intents and purposes, it ended up being a race for most of us.
With all the rain recently, many were nervous about making the trip down. I managed to ride Rhett's run last thursday and after seeing how well the ground was draining, I had a lot of confidence that the non-race would indeed happen. In fact, the conditions ended up being close to perfect. There were some serious creek crossings, but this is mountain biking.
There were 3 start waves for the race, my buddies Matt James and Dan Furhman were the first to go, as the 2 first place (geared and single speed) finishers from last year. Next the first 10 registered, then a larger group which is where I started.
Riding in April has been really good for me this year. I've only raced 2x, but have been motivated to ride hard at least 2-3x during the week. So, I wanted to ride hard and smart for the duration of the 32-33 miles.
After the start, I caught Matt and Dan about 2 miles down the single-track, a little before a 7-ish mile section of gravel road riding. Matt and I took off together, leaving Dan and his single gear to spin his brains out. We traded about 90s pulls and kept a steady tempo pace for the entire 7miles. It was the most boring part of the topography, although the scenery was quite awesome.
When we arrived at a concrete section we saw Caleb from Momentum chasing us doing like a mad-man. He eventually caught us right before the 16 miles of singletrack. Matt led in, then Caleb, and I followed. Caleb looked as though he had burned too many matches catching us and I felt really good. So with about 13-14 miles left, I took off.
The riding was fast, flowy, exciting, and absolutely beautiful. I was seriously in bliss pedaling along and felt like I was hauling. At about 19miles, there was a little gravel section and as I was riding it, I noticed a pink flag and a weird trail to my right. At first, I turned thinking it was the trail. Then I stopped, looked around and decided to keep going. A minute or so later, I turned around and rode back too take a look and decided I was a moron, since there were no tire marks. I looked up and saw Matt and Caleb down the road. Time to haul. I didn't want to ride away from Matt, but he was keeping Caleb in check and I thought it would be good to keep up the pace. I established a gap again and tt was more of the same until mile 27, when all of a sudden I pinched and was riding on my rim. It took me awhile to change the tire and during that time, Matt, then Nico, then Dan Furhman passed me (note, always carry 2 C02s). Once I got back on, I started soft pedaling, then figured what-the-hell, and took off in chase knowing I had 3-4miles to catch people. Looking at my garmin, it looks like a 20min threshold effort, but eventually I caught Matt and he and I finished together in a tie for first place.
I'm sitting in a coffee shop writing this up, and an old ancient Columbia cyclist came up to me and just told me that the state mountain bike used to be in the area of middlefork...probably 13-15 years ago. And consisted of a single loop of about the same length as MFXC. Back then, the locals apparently were into the race, but one year, a cat 4 made some big deal about either his placing or maybe his wife's, and almost started a brawl with the officials. Cops had to come and that was the end of that.