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|
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|
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|
|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).
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!