June 10, 2010

Iron Hill Challenge Recap

Iron Hill Challenge - MASS Series Event

Iron Hill Park, DE
June 6, 2010
Hot (my car thermometer read 92 degrees), muggy and threatening thunderstorms

Nearly all of the team made it to the Iron Hill Challenge last weekend in Delaware. In attendance were Ross, John, Aaron, Jay, Cam, Scott, Mike and myself. Our team had a great race!

The course is about 5 miles long and tucked into a little park. It offered tons of twisting and turning singletrack, a few rocks, one longish climb and some awesome natural features (the promoters played up the "Mega-Dip" (a huge bowl-type feature), but there were some other fun things to ride too). Lap times were in the 24-30 minute range and we all were racing 4 laps.

I haven't raced since my leg injury back in mid-April, so I was a little tentative about getting back on the mountain bike and risking losing all of the progress I've made in the past month-and-a-half after 6 hours a week of physical therapy. At the beginning of May, I wasn't able to walk, couldn't force my knee to turn even one pedal-stroke and was basically restricted to lying on the floor with my leg elevated, trying to drain out all the blood that had pooled in my knee and return my leg to normal flesh-color (it had basically turned black from the amount of bruising). But, with a really good physical therapist, lots of work in the swimming pool and lots of time, I'm back on the bike again.

We went out for a team pre-ride of the 5 mile course (well everyone else went out - I hung behind to make sure I could go at my own pace). I was very tentative on any rocks, but made it though one lap OK. The foliage was extremely lush - I couldn't see where I was going for a lot of the time, but started to pick up some confidence and speed as I got further and further along the course.

The start was in a big field and the open/elite men's category had about 30 guys. I started at the back, watched Aaron get a great start and ride away, but I found I could hang with everyone and even started passing people on the first long uphill.

It was cool to look back and see Cam right on my wheel. We were passing people together for the first full lap until I think I lost him on one pass. Somehow, I worked my way up to about 5th place when my freehub on my wheel started to stick (it was an old wheelset that I'd brought to the race - a very bad idea to have used them) and I lost the ability to pedal. I walked for about 10 minutes until I figured out what had happened (the chain had pulled the derailleur into the crankset), then set about fixing it and lost about 20 minutes in the process. Darn! So, I rode two more fun laps and finished second to last (which was exactly my target for my first race back).
Mike flatted about the same time I had freehub issues and he and I both had a good time on the course, but finished towards the back of the field.

Cam kept flying and finished 8th - an awesome result for a youngster in a large field!

John pinned it from the start in his race to win after leading from start to finish, ending up 4 minutes ahead of second place.

Jay did the same thing in his race and won convincingly.

Ross picked up a solid 5th place in his super fast category.

The heat got to both Aaron (who had just endured a hellaciously hot race in Texas the week before) and Scottie.

Full results are here.

It was great to see the team this weekend! I'm off to the Stoopid 50 Marathon in the State College, PA area this coming weekend, and I think Jay and Cam are going to join me for some fun in the rocks of central PA.

The next team race is the US Cup Triple Crown All Mountain Series finals presented by team sponsor H20 Overdrive at the Massanutten Hoo Ha! on June 19/20. It should be a big event on a classic mountain bike course (think rocky singletrack)!
- Jeff

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