The day started early, 5:15 am to be more accurate, and by 6:15 I had already showered, snacked, coffeed, and settled into the front seat of Oppy’s truck for our trip to Jug Mountain. Although, I was not racing with him as a partner it was great to hang out the entire day.
On arrival to Jug Mountain it seamed like time hit a fast forward button! Unpack, inflate tires, check bike, set up, chamois up, number plate, racer meeting, GO! Before I knew it I was on the front. Hole shot… Check, fastest first lap… Check, Game On!
Now time to sit down, eat, drink, and figure out how I am going to do that 6 times.
The course was incredible, it stated out on winding, rolling, pine needle covered single track, then gave way to a double track road climb. Once you conquered the climb it was time to play! The next 20 minutes, or so, was killer single track through the trees. Around every corner you had a different challenge, and surprise waiting for you. One section of tree roots, then rock gardens, wood bridges, mud bogs, creek crossings, rock drops, and the best bermed switchbacks! Did I say how bad ass the trail was? Yeah, bad ass!
I thought about playing this out with a report on all six laps, but that is just to much. So, I will tell you first 3 laps I had a blast! I felt good, and really pushed it more and more each lap as I began to find the fastest lines. Lap 4 was another story all together. Starting the lap with a completely compressed shock after loosing all positive pressure in my fork. I climbed hard knowing my descent would be slower due to the fact my fork was not functioning, and I was riding what was essentially a funny bike. Turns out I was right. After roughly 10 minutes of arm crushing, finger numbing descending I hit a hole coming out of a switchback and flew over the bars. Ouch! Blood pouring from my elbow, my legs locked in cramps, body covered in mud, dirt, sweat, and blood. That is when it donned on me… Mountain Bike racing is for real! Get your ass up and go. Done!
The next few laps were a test of will. It was difficult to hold the cramps at bay, but somehow I kept my rhythm steady on the bumpy trail and after a few close calls where the hamstrings went steel cable tight for a few seconds at a time, I crossed the line just before 4:30 pm. My day was done, but my ballsy Teammate went out to attempt a sub 35 min lap. He did not complete the lap before time ran out.
At the end of the day my teammate Todd Meier and I officially completed 11 laps just a few minutes slower than my best friend, Josh Oppenheimer, and his teammate Zach Powell.
After the race all the volunteers, promoters, racers, and fans gathered for a great BBQ Party on the deck and in the grass of The Jug Mountain Lodge. What a great event, on a amazing day, in a beautiful setting. I remember remarking to a more than a few “This is what it is all about, races and gatherings like this are the reason I am doing Project 4040.”
2 down 38 to go!
photos Matt Green