Finish: 2nd (2:05:38)
Location: Angel Fire, NM
Distance: 19.3 mi
In less than 10 words: Dropping your chain can really screw things up.
GPS track on Strava: Cross Country
I went to Moreno Valley High School in Angel Fire for two years and spent a lot of time training at Angel Fire Resort. I remember crashing on the course while training by myself and after finishing my ride going to the ER to see if I needed stitches in my knee. I remember getting caught out on the course in a massive rainstorm and finishing the ride wetter than I’ve ever been on a bike. And I remember almost missing my high school graduation because I was racing the 2006 Chile Challenge. So Angel Fire is the closest thing I have to a home course. And I wanted to win. Unfortunately, the bike gods had other ideas.
After taking the lead at the top of the descent on the first lap, I put 30 seconds on the rest of the field. I was feeling good, descending well and hoping for a good race. I led the entire second lap and even though Jay Henry (Tokyo Joe’s) caught me at the top, I gapped him on the descent and went into lap three still in the lead. I continued to feel good and when Jay passed me on the climb, I stuck on his wheel and we hit the top together. That’s when it happened.
As I passed Jay on the fire road descent at the top, my chain fell off. I was able to shift into my little ring in the front and get it back on without stopping, but for the rest of the descent my bike wouldn’t stay in any gear. I fiddled with the cable tension as I rode but it made no difference and as we started to climb the last lap I stopped to figure out what was going on. At first I couldn’t see anything, then I realized that while getting my chain back on I had twisted one of the links. So I had to spend close to two minutes bending it back to something resembling straight and Jay Henry dropped me. I also got caught and passed by Peter Kalmes (Honey Stinger/Bontrager). For the rest of the climb, I chased Peter and finally caught him near the top. I passed him and ripped the descent, but Jay was too far ahead to catch and I finished in second.
I had been looking forward to duking it out with Jay on the last lap and I was disappointed that I lost that chance, but I felt good and finished on the podium. Still, I think I’m going to put the money I won towards buying a Shimano XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur since I’ve heard they do a great job of keeping your chain where you want it to be…on the chainrings.