Root 66 Coyote Hill Classic Day One:
Short Track and Hill Climb
Short Track and Hill Climb
Got Saturday off for this one so we loaded up the family truckster with Greg, Colin, and Linnea and set out for West Fairlee, VT semi early in the AM. We got to Tom Masterson’s Coyote Hill center with ample time to mess around. It was a schizophrenic day, hot and cold all at once with rain showers out of blue skies and swarms of black flies trying to devour us as we tried to register for the short track and hill climb events.
Before the Short Track we were able to get out for a full lap of the XC course. Big climb from the start, screaming decent out of the hole shot, fast, loose sliding the rear wheel type corners, roots and more roots, fresh cut loaminess, stream crossings, bridges, rocks, steep drop offs, and more climbing. It was virtually bone dry this year so I began re-thinking the gear choice, I’d shown up with a 32 X 18, thinking that would be steep. It didn’t feel so steep in the singletrack and the climb was nicely graded and not so loose that I couldn’t get up it in a bigger gear. That night I would throw on the Surly 33t ring for that little jump up in gearing, not wanting to commit to dropping a tooth in the back. I’ve found that riding a light gear in tight singletrack is much like driving a car down a winding Vermont road in fifth gear when you should be in third, it’s like that Bad Religion album…No Control. It’s funny, on a geared bike you switch between two gears and it’s kinda like “meh”, on a single speed a one tooth difference is everything. We’re talking the difference between Graham Parsons and Alan Parsons here.
Jeff Whittingham who was doing pretty damn well (whether he thinks so or not). in a super-high intensity event for a guy that hasn’t raced his bike yet this year I probably went the exact same speed throughout but in the end managed to catch all but the totally out of sight Carpenter. Watch out for this kid, he can ride a bike like it’s his job, and someday soon that just might be the case.
Straightening a rotor with LED assistance. Jeff and Seneca. Tools of a neurotic Single Speeder.
Next up was the Hill Climb, I’d pre-ridden the course and had resigned myself to the fact that I would be going for a hike with my bike. It wasn’t a straight up climb either, it actually had two downhills in it, glad I didn’t try to rock the ‘Cross bike which had been my initial plan. I rode all but the final bit of the climb, walking not running it, knowing that I was not doing anywhere close to well. Whittingham and Mellen blew by as I was tacking up the second steepest pitch, gasping out, “this isn’t working”. Whittingham went on to win with Mellen in second and Dillon in third.
Root 66 Coyote Hill Classic Day Two:Cross Country
We stayed over in Waitsfield at the Whittinghams with Whittibaby and Whittidog (no blog for the dog…yet, but it’s only a matter of time). They have an amazing spot over there, you literally cross a covered bridge to get to their house. Jeff and Jenn fixed us up with a big pasta dinner, chocolate cupcakes, and ice cream, just what any Euro-pro would eat the night before a big race. Sleep didn’t go well, but it rarely does, even spooning with Montello in the guest bed didn’t help any.
The coffee is always special at the Whittingham’s, three cups later I wasn’t feeling like I’d slept a mere six hours. Then it was down to The Green Cup for an amazing breakfast with extra toast. In Vermont toast is a delicacy, fresh local butter and artisan bread put the stuff over the top. The coffee ain’t shabby at that spot neither.
Colin needs to drink more coffee. The Whittinghams. Bronte, the horrible Beast.This day was gorgeous, Tom Masterson’s place is what people dream about when they dream of Vermont. Red barns, green mountains, flowers everywhere, and singeltrack surrounding it like construction workers around a roach coach. We were there mega-early to cheer on IBC sport riders Alex, and George. Alex ended up second with George rounding out the top ten in his class and scoring himself some series points. The extra time allowed us to take another lap of the course, which was worth doing just because it was so damn fun to ride. It makes such a difference when you’re racing on trails built and maintained solely for the purpose of mountain biking, this stuff was just 100% fun.
Recent upgrades to The Rig, AKA "Bailey" or "Creamy Beige" have made it a bit lighter. A full compliment of Bontrager Race X Lite Parts have brought the weight down to 23.5Lbs. This was the first ride on 'em and they worked frickin' great.
Came up to the start line sweating and warmed up (so I thought), squeezed in next to Greg Carpenter hoping to get a lead out on a good start for once, Adam Snyder jumped in front of me which is where he should have been and where he would stay by a mile so that was fine by me. It actually came as a shock how crappily I started, even for me. I thought the uphill would help but it only helped me get dropped as I watched Paul Simoes take the hole shot. I dropped into the singeltrack out of the top ten behind Greg Montello and a wicked young dude who I don’t know yet, but who probably hates my guts, I’ll get to that in a second. Greg had told me that if I ended up behind him in the singetrack just to tell him to move, unfortunately there was this kid between us who he didn’t want to let by as well so I had to figure out a way to pass him before I could take Greg up on his generous offer. Eventually the issue had to be forced and after one too many bobbles I said “alright, you gotta ride faster or get out of the way” as at this point Montello was gapping him. Shortly thereafter I strong-armed past the kid and Montello let me go by. I took out some frustration on the singetrack, trying to kick it’s ass with my big knobbly wheels. After a little bit too much heavy breathing like a creepy crank caller I settled in behind the next group. Aside from one classic single-speeder trying to pedal through everything, clipping a crank on a rock going uphill, and flipping bony ass over coffee maker(tea kettles are for British Grans) I kept the bike upright.
Stretch Leg-StrongJenn Whittingham was doing bottle feeds and had thought we were a lap ahead so she had handed me my bottle of flat coke for the last lap going into lap three. At first I was nervous that I would cramp or have a sugar crash before the race ended but it turned out to be the best thing possible. I was suddenly wide awake and lucid, ready to shred the trails as hard as I possibly I could. Maybe I’ll race exclusively on coke from here on out. It’s also just plain awesome to get bottle hand ups and not have to carry all the extra weight of multiple bottles or a Camelbak, thanks Jenn W., you’re a life saver.
I had no idea where I stood but kept drilling it regardless, looking for more prey. The only guy I ran into was Greg Carpenter who, after a great start and what looked to be a great ride was side-lined with a catastrophic flat. He would cross the line running like hell with his tire wrapped around his waste and his front rim bare. Like I said, watch out for this guy.
After I crossed the line, fully tapped out, ready to have a heart attack, I went over to the results tent to assess the damage only to find that I had somehow made the podium again , well behind Justin Lindine and Adam Snyder. Michael Mooradian would come across in fourth with Mike Joos coming in fifth having made up a whole bunch of time on people.
"What the hell did you just say, don't make me come down off this thing! ". Adam Snyder looking at the podium rookie going "god, what a douche you wait for the event photographer to say "arms up, not one of your friends...tool!". There we go.
Big thanks to Jeff and Jenn for everything, well dones to Colin, Linnea, George, Rachel, Alex (and an extra well done for the Margarita cupcakes, wow-wow-wee-wow), Miriam for getting me registered for The Vermont 50 because it fills up in two seconds these days and there was no way I’d be back in time to do it myself, and thanks to Andy for also registering me for The 50 due to a miscommunication…better to be registered twice than not at all. Hell of a weekend.