I tend to be wordy in my posts. Writing my experiences on the bike down is my way of decompression. I'll try to be a bit more brief on these two races considering they were sandwiched in between two of my bigger events for the year which unfortunately for you, the reader, I'll be delving into full detail for.
The Boone XC race is one of my more interesting races on a yearly basis. Running full tilt on this course for multiple laps in a row is a surefire way to find yourself knee deep in pain. Add in the singlespeed factor for this year and I had no clue what to expect. I knew I'd be lining up against a number of guys I respect for speed and ability and hoped I could hang with them given the limited amount of short course racing I'd done up to this point. We had a pretty small group for the start which made it a bit easier to get a fair spot into the woods after our usual out and back on the grass field below the ski hill. I hit the woods sitting around 10th or a shade better with a few experts leading the charge and a few others from the comp class stacked in as well. The comp guys aren't in my class, but I consider them direct competition as it's the class I'd be racing if I hadn't determined earlier that I wanted to stick to the singlespeed class. I have a feeling next year, we may all be lumped into one group anyway.
The first climb into the singletrack is always a soul crusher as you wind up and up twisting until you're about 2/3 to the top of the ski hill before diving back to the bottom again. We started out at a hard but relatively manageable pace in the first part of the course. Watching Kyle (also on SS) snake by a few riders and making his way towards the front, I marked him as much as possible. In my mind (and a few others I'm sure), he's without a doubt one of the fastest guys lap for lap at Boone. I stayed close on his wheel through the first half of the lap before catching an opening when he spun on a root. I tried to take advantage of putting a couple guys between us and opening a gap, but it took a lot out of me in the process. As we hit the line for lap 1 I had maybe a 20-30 second gap on him as I took off for lap two.
Nearing the base of the powerline cut on lap 2 Kyle was holding tight on my wheel as I started slowing down on the flat sections to hopefully conserve some energy and recover from hammering out lap 1. He asked for the pass and I gladly let him go to run my own pace. As soon as he was out of site, it was a done deal and he went on to take the comp class win by a pretty fair margin. I should mention that he also rides singlespeed so in reality, he took both wins. Good thing its not scored that way though! Lap 2 was pretty uneventful other than the constant kick in the nuts that Boone provides free of charge with each race entry. I did find myself walking a few of the steeper hills at this point with my legs screaming for a break.
By the time I rolled into lap 3 I was about ready for this thing to be done with. I did my best to put in a hard effort again, but cramps were starting to close in every time I tried really upping the effort. I was still walking some sections and felt like I was barely trudging along. I guess it was a real welcoming to the rigors of racing with 1 gear. I felt like I must be losing huge amounts of time both to Kyle in front of me and the rest of the pack behind me. I never did get passed though and managed to hang on for 1st singlespeed and what would've been 2nd in the comp class by about 5 minutes back of Kyle.
All told, I was really happy with my gearing selection, race effort, and finishing spot. Given that I hadn't been really focused on XC efforts, it was definitely nice to have a solid race.