I had no expectations for the Iron Mountain Bike Race held today in Damascus Va, I basically went for fun and to train for the upcoming Cyclocross series. I had heard stories of how fun this race is and how well racers are treated vis a vis food and tasty adult beverage after the race I was happy to be able to go. Plus it got my mind off all the batshit wild lunacy that was going on in the world today. I met up with Bob, Anet,Ian and Wes Lamberson and soon it was time to go.
We (all 35ish of us)were shuttled out of town to the start a few miles up in the Mount Rogers National Forest at Beartree Campground. The stats of the course included 3 miles of FLAT pavement to start, 1ish mile singletrack climb to the Iron Mountain trail that rolls over and through some nasty rock gardens for 5 or so miles and then another 5 miles that includes a 1200 foot descent of Mock Holler.
We went off hard thanks in part to Bob's son Wes and 3 miles of basically flat on a singlespeed really is tough. I tucked in behind Bob and we did our best attempt at a paceline until the dirt came. I was sooo happy when we hit the Lum Trail and some climbing. I didn't know who might be right behind us, I knew there was about 6 in front of us so I just tried to set a really hard pace to hopefully make it a race with just us and nobody else. The short answer is it worked, only one person caught me - Casey, (one of the locals and a co-promoter of the race) more on that later. Right now, I was really hurting but happy that we had a nice gap and I could try to recover some. The trail was really rocky and several people got nailed with flats. I passed at least two with flats and was feeling pretty good. I dinged my rear rim and was losing air but it never went totally flat. Did I mention it was rocky? It is every bit as tough as anything I have ridden in Pisgah and a long race up there would hurt.
But this wasn't a long race. About 2/3 of the way through, I thought I was all alone and suddenly Casey blew by me on a rocky descent like I was going backwards. It was a long time before I saw him again (only because he flatted) and shortly after I passed him, I began to have my own problems with my rear tire going down. I began to weigh the options - Stop and add air and maybe lose a place or two, ride it out and risk getting a full-on flat and lose lots of places. I rode on but eventually stopped to add air just before Mock Holler (Mock Holler is notoriously rocky).
As soon as I stopped, I got passed. GRRRRR!
I got back on and headed down Mock and tried to baby it (which is stupid, kinda like trying to spoon feed a shark). I did my best and felt my rim bottom out a few times but I popped out of the woods and finished with no more issues.
After changing and cleaning up, we had, prepared for us, a great BBQ lunch and some really good beer.
I ended up 8th OA and 2nd in age group, had loads of fun, and got my entry fee back in BBQ and beer consumed.
Bob ended up 5th OA and 1st in age group, Wes was 2nd OA and 1st in age group, Anet got 1st in her age group too. Monotanous huh?
I can't wait until next year. This one will be on my schedule for sure.