I woke up at 6:30am, looked out the window and saw the snow line was down to around 8000 ft, and I could tell it had rained during the night. It was wet but at least it was cold. In the back of my mind, I had doubts the race would still happen.
I slammed down a protein shake and a packet of oatmeal and loaded up the truck. A quick stop at the Chevron for a 44oz Diet Coke and I was off. Worst case, it would be a nice drive up the canyon with some good pre-race music on the XM and a Diet Coke in my hand.
As I pulled into Deer Valley, it didn't look good. Everything was very wet and you could still see snow on the course. I saw Adam L. at the registration. He was undecided about racing and was going to wait 45 min to see how things looked before dropping the $38 race fees. I didn't blame him. After thinking about it, Adam decided against racing but hung around to watch.
I made my way to the registration line and slapped down the money and asked for a winning number. That never gets a laugh with the race volunteers. Overused I guess. Due to the weather, they had decided to shorten the distance. Instead of 2 laps, SS would do 1.5 laps (or so I thought).
At the start line, I found myself next to Jon Gallagher in the Single Speed class. There were 7 or 8 in our group. One guy (Spike) had on the craziest leg warmers I had ever seen. Zebra stripes with bright colors. Very loud. I assumed he was fast enough to pull those off but that didn't stop Jon from giving him a hard time. Every few minutes Jon would look at him and wait for eye contact and then say "Dude, now that's a statement". This went on several times. I could tell that Spike was getting annoyed but it was funny. (Check out Spike's leg warmers....Seriously?)
As it got close to the SS start, the race director, for some reason, decided that he would let the SS riders decide how many laps we wanted to do. The adjusted distance of 1.5 or the scheduled 2 laps (no other group had this option). I had already set my mind to the 1.5 laps and had mixed feelings about going longer. With all the testosterone at the start line, I knew we would "decide" to do 2 laps. Sure enough, as we all looked at each other, everyone held up 2 fingers. Well then, there it was. 2 laps.
The course starts with a steep climb up a jeep road. I was able to stay in front with Jon and Spike but was about 50 yards behind them. The climb was brutal and even with a 20 cog on the back, I was hurting. I saw Adam L. about 1/3 of the way up the climb (he had hiked up to watch) and wanted to get off and hand him my bike. Suddenly, his decision to not race seemed like a great idea.
Despite all the snow/rain, the course was in great shape. Wet but not muddy (expect for a few sections). The single track downhill sections were amazing. I didn't get to pre-ride the course and had no idea what was coming. I didn't know how long the climbs were, or how technical the downhill was. That voice in my head started talking to me. Telling me to stop and that this was stupid. I came close to pulling the plug but hung in there. Towards the end of the 1st lap, I started feeling good and knew I was in 3rd or 4th place but was starting to regret doing that jeep road climb again.
As I got to the base of the nasty climb, I put my head down and only allowed myself to see 5 ft in front of my wheel. I knew if I looked up, I would start to cry and probably get off my bike. (Just look at my face in this pic...yeah, I'm pretty much redlined)
The climb is steep but not too long. Without gears, it really hurts. It was over soon enough and I knew I had put enough distance between the other SS riders to keep my position as long as I didn't have a mechanical.
I started to catch some of the Expert riders who started before us, specifically, Chad. He was having some shifting issues but was riding strong. I rode with him for a bit and tried to sell him on the SS thing. I noticed Spike had pulled over and was looking at his chain or wheel. It gave me a big boost to know I now had a chance to podium.
Before too long, we were done with the climbs and just had the sweet downhill left. The dirt was perfect. Damp enough to rail through the turns and keep the speed up.
As I came through the finish, I was in 3rd place. Things would have been different if Jamie showed up but I'll take it.