May 03, 2012

Greenbrier Challenge - Race Report - April 28, 2012

Race:  Greenbrier Challenge
Date: Sunday, April 28, 2012
Conditions: Sunny and dry with some residual muddy spots on the trails
Riders: Aaron, Mike, Nick, John, Jeff
Result: Aaron 1st (pro), Mike 3rd (pro), Jeff 11th (pro), John 12th (pro), Nick 2nd (Cat 1)

The Greenbrier Challenge is an annual staple in the Mid-Atlantic.  Its course has a little of everything from 5-6 minute power climbs just at the edge of traction, to rock gardens, to stream crossings and muddy descents.  The weather forecast all week had been grim with predictions of heavy rain, which would turn the course into a slippery mess of roots and rocks.  Luckily, the weather gods smiled on us and race day turned out to be warm and sunny.

Aaron, Mike, John and I all raced the 5-lap Pro event and Nick jumped into the 4-lap Cat 1 event.

John drove down from New Jersey in the Scott box van and we were assigned team parking.  We had a very awesome team area to show off the bikes and for a team photo.

Awesome name stickers on the bikes from
At the start of the pro event, Aaron got the holeshot into the first climb (video from Mike's dad), and never looked back.

Aaron in the lead (and attacking)
Mike moving up
Jeff and John with a more conservative start strategy

The field was bunched up in the first climb and into the first series of rock gardens and Aaron got a huge gap over chaser Chris Beck (Team CF).  Mike took off in pursuit and I followed shortly thereafter.

On the first steep climb of the day, Aaron was already out of sight, but Chris Beck and Mike were visible just ahead of me.  I held a 20 second gap to Mike through the end of the first lap while riding with Dave Weaver (ALAN), Mike Tabasko (DCMTB) and Jordan Kahlenberg (GIANT).

Aaron in the lead after lap 1 (and 2, 3, 4, and 5)
Jeff chasing with a group
John at the close of lap 1
 At the close of the first lap, I put in a small attack and got a gap to my group.  I held a 10-40 second advantage on 5th place for the next two laps and Mike started to ride away from me with his superior technical skills (his race report is here:

Mike chasing hard
John hamming through the finish area
Unfortunately, at the close of lap 3, I went to pass a slower, lapped rider, and sliced open the sidewall on my tire.  The cut was 2-3 inches long and far too large for my Stan's sealant to prevent all of the air from escaping. I didn't initially see the cut, and tried to unsuccessfully re-inflate the tire, only to discover that I needed to use a spare tube.

In the process of changing the tire, and fumbling with changing my wheel from tubeless to tubed, I watched nearly the whole field pass me by.  Darn!  I guess that's what I get for gambling and running super light tires on a rocky course.  Plus, the tires had already seen 5-600 miles of training on them this past winter and spring.  My gamble had run out.

I rode carefully and slowly through the next two laps and finished one out of the money in 11th place.  The legs were there, but the tires were unwilling.

Mike headed out for another lap
Mike at the finish
Post-race cleanup

Aaron ended up winning by more than 2 minutes over second place.

Pro top 3 results and lap times
Pro podium (Aaron 1st, Mike 3rd)

Unfortunately, the officials were distracted when Mike finished his 5th and final lap of the race (and Mike was also distracted) and he went out for a 6th lap (which might have been his fastest one of the day).  Despite that problem that might have set others off in a temper, Mike dealt with it calmly and chalked the extra lap up to training.

Nick also had a mechanical and, despite being in first most of the day, was caught at the finish while running his bike home and finished second.

Nick leading at the start
Nick Second
Cat 1 Results and Lap times
Race results are available here.

It was good to see everyone and catch up after a good winter of training.

Here is my  file on the race from

- Jeff

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