Kalan BeiselFinish: 2nd (1:47:15)
Location: Salida, CO
Distance: 22.5 mi
In less than 10 words: Hurting on the climbs, rocking on the descents!
GPS track on Strava: Cross Country
I started off the race with one main goal: get to the singletrack before as many other racers as possible. With a solid field of 34, this wasn’t easy, but I managed to enter the singletrack in third behind Mitch Hoke and Colin Cares. And it made all the difference. The moment we hit the singletrack, we started putting a gap on the rest of the field. And by the end of the first lap we had a 30-second gap on fourth place (Fernando Paez).
The first lap was hard. Mitch and Colin were pushing the pace and dropped me going up the dirt road climb halfway through the lap. Fortunately, I was feeling good and my WTB Nano Raptors were perfect for the technical, rocky course so was able to make up that time on the descent that followed. So as we started lap two, the three of us were still together.
The second lap was even harder. And it turns out, faster. According to the Live-timing.com results we were almost two minutes faster the second time around. This time though, Mitch and Colin dropped me on the initial paved climb and right after I caught back up to them on the singletrack they dropped me again on the mid-lap dirt road. This time, it took me longer to catch them, but I did and less than 10 minutes from the finish were were together again. Then they dropped me again! This time on the short singletrack climb to the road less than 5 minutes from the finish. I tried to keep up, but me legs were toast. So when we hit the road descent I pedaled for all I was worth and as we entered the last singletrack descent I started to catch them again.
Then all of a sudden, I came around a turn and almost hit Colin! He told me later that he had slid out on a turn and Mitch was able to get around him. I also got around him and focused on getting as much of a gap on him as I could on the last descent. It turned out to be enough and even though there was one final dirt road climb, it wasn’t long enough for anyone to catch anyone and we finished in the same order as yesterday’s circuit race (Mitch, me, Colin).
In my opinion, that was a real mountain bike course. It was rocky, rough and technical and perfect for the Occam’s 5 inches of travel. I had a scary almost crash at the top of Uncle Nazty when my front wheel hit a rock just before I dropped into the hardest part and I had to jump over my handlebars and run down the rock with the Occam bouncing down after me. The course claimed quite a few tires and a certain amount of skin from the racers and as Mitch put it “we lost a lot of good men out there.”