May 14, 2012

On the Rocks @ French Creek - Race Report - May 12, 2012

Race:  On the Rocks @ French Creek in Elverson, PA
Date: May 12, 2012
Conditions: Warm (80 degrees) with fast, tacky trails
Riders: Aaron 1st (Elite/Open), Cam 2nd (Elite/Open), Mike 3rd (Elite/Open), Dylan 6th (Elite/Open), Jeff 7th (Elite/Open), Ross 19th (Elite/Open), John 20th (Elite/Open), Jay 1st (Master's 50+)

Pro/Elite Podium - Aaron 1st, Cam 2nd, Mike 3rd
Jay 1st
The team had a great weekend at French Creek this past weekend, taking all three podium spots in the 35 rider Elite/Open category and a win in the Master's 50+ category.

I'd never raced at French Creek before and it turned out to be a 95% singletrack course with plenty of rocks (hence the race name) and not many opportunities for passing.  It had some fast singletrack sections, a few road crossings and a few short steep climbs and some fast rocky downhills that kept you on your toes.  A moment of inattention, and you'd be on the ground.

The Elite/Open field was again very large with 35 or more fast guys lining up to take on the rocks of central PA.  I'd not been on my mtb in over a week due to work, muddy trails and other commitments, so I was a little worried about technical skill in the rocks.  Plus, at the start, I found myself at the very back of the field...

Jay at the start
At the gun, we had a crash in the field that took down 2-4 riders.  Luckily, the first stretch was a long fireroad climb and I worked my way up the field from dead last (sorry to Ross for passing him by going through a mud puddle and splattering him) to about 15th by the first singletrack downhill.

I could see Aaron and Cam at the front of the field, John and Ross were right with me and Dylan was a few riders ahead as we headed into the rocks for lap 1 of 3. I worked my way over the rocks and moved up a few more places and saw Mike in the trail right behind me.

Aaron leading after lap 1
Cam duling it out with Chris Beck
Mike at the end of lap 1
Dylan at the end of lap 1
Jeff at the end of lap 1
John at the end of lap 1
Ross heading out for lap 2
I followed Mike for the rest of the first lap and we passed more riders.  I lost his wheel when I couldn't make a pass and got caught behind some slower riders.  In the distance, I saw that Mike had linked up with Dylan and the two were riding away.

Mike and Dylan - headed out for lap 2

Unfortunately, I felt my rear tire going soft as we were getting close to the close of the first lap. I  looked for a good section to quickly hit the tire with some CO2.  I stopped, got passed by two riders, filled the tire up and crossed my fingers (it turned out to be a valve stem leak - the tire's now held air for three days with no problems and apparently just needed a little more air).

On the next descent, I caught up to Dylan who was riding slowly.  He'd crashed while following Mike down one of the rocky descents.  He was a bit shaken up, but soon got his composure and we went flying down the trail to chase down more riders.

Dylan and I rode well together for the next lap and passed a few more riders, working our way up to 6th and 7th and were within sight of 5th when the race ended.

Aaron rode away from the field, finishing nearly a minute up on Cam, who had a battle royale with Chris Beck.  Beck eventually had to ease up due to a slipped seatpost and Mike passed him for third.  John and Ross were also in the money for the day (both were fatigued from working on a night shift/change in jobs/new house).

Aaron finishing
Cam finishing
Dylan Finishing
Jeff finishing
Jay also rode away from the competition, finishing first in the fourteen rider Master's 50+ category, almost three minutes up on second place.

Pro/Elite results
Masters Results
All, and all, a great result on a great course.  Thanks to Trestle Bridge Racing for putting on a very fun event!

Here's the data from my ride on Strava:

Next up for the team is the Bike Line Fair Hill event on June 3.  Hope to see you there!

- Jeff

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