I really enjoy northeast summers. In fact, I am sure I would enjoy it all year round if I was not dedicated to riding my bike in the winter. The sub-freezing temps and mounds of snow hinder the prospects of consistent training on a bike, unless you have embraced the fat bike lifestyle. Though, other options for training, outside, in the winter are equally enticing (ie. XC skiing, snow shoeing, DH skiing, winter camping, etc. I can definitely see myself spending a full year in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine.
Therefore, when Emily, her dad, and I made plans to head to Vermont for Gnar Weasels I was very excited. I talked to Thom Parsons (he is the race promoter) at TSE about it and I was looking forward to the new venue. I was told “these trails are the up and coming kingdom trails!”. I was also looking forward to getting out on my road bike to cruise the undulating hills and mountain sides of the winding, back country, dirt, and paved roads.
We made it to Ascuteny on Friday afternoon and got out on course for a pre ride before checking into the campground (we traveled in the RV, life is always good in the RV).
We quickly found the trails to be flowy, not super technical from a rocky difficult stand point, but to continuously go fast and be smooth you had to possess a certain set of skills. Awkward corners and the surprise rooted uphill jutting terrain kept my head up and constantly swiveling. After pre ride I was pumped to race it.
Trails always take on a different attitude when raced, some for better others for worse. I was thinking the previous.
Saturday we headed to the venue in the RV for a1pm race time (perfect). I was eager to race against the competitive New England fast guys, like Billy Melone and Stephen Hyde.
There was a holeshot prime off the start and I quickly counted it out until I learned it was actually 1mile into the race. The pace started high and stayed high, very high, for the first lap. A local fast guy, Noah, was extremely antsy and set on putting Stephen and I on the limit for the first lap. After the race we both discussed how pinned we were and worried we would have been had he kept the pace elevated.
Luckily, he dialed back the throttle, which left the next two laps open for Stephen and I to look for chinks in each others armor. I quickly found that he had none. I was skeptical about his MTB ability but the skepticism vanished rapidly and I found myself paying close attention to his lines and settling in instead of trying to push him to make a mistake. That isn’t to say mistakes weren’t made. I found my tires cornering limit a time or two on some wet roots and Stephen managed to launch high side after clipping a rock with his pedal. I saw sparks fly and I am determined that this resulted in the blood spatter on my fork and leg. I never drew blood so it had to be his. From then on it was UFC MTB racing.. .
We both pressured each other but were too closely matched. It came down to the line. Stephen was leading and there wasn’t much room to sprint around him. On the final corner a line appeared to me that I never noticed before, it was a do or die situation. The risk was cut inside and slide out and get second, or follow his wheel and lose the sprint to get second. I went for it and it paid off. I got the inside and that put us even for the sprint to the line. I think I surprised him a little bit, which played to my advantage and I was able to out kick him.
I was gassed! That was hard racing but very fun. Did I mention hard?
Lots more dirtwire.tv action on the facebook and at the website.
The RV was clutch. After podium, where Stephen champagne showered me, I hopped in the shower and we headed to the campground to finish out the 4th of July weekend.
A quick stop at a road side produce stand also yielded a surprise “homemade” donut stop! One of the best ever, definitely top 5.
MMMM! Maple Glaze!
Sunday I bit off a little more than I could chew, when considering the race on Saturday. 75mi with 9200ft of climbing. It was well worth it though. Vermont has some pretty amazing views and the roads are quiet and picturesque.
The pros out weighed the cons of being a little tired, and Strava routing me “roads,” which were actually ATV trails. I bonked here and journeyed a little deeper into the “bonk” than I have in a while. I was just fortunate enough to not flat.
I recovered well with a few beers and Brats. Happy fourth!