This race last year was pretty chill, and this year was the same. There were a lot of familiar face from the Island Cup series, but there were even more new faces. 100 racers max meant it was a small field.
After the pre race briefing we headed up to stage 1. There was a bit of a line there, but it suddenly disappeared as a large train of about 8 racers took off. The start of stage 1 included a huge puddle. The racing line went right through it, but many of us opted to go around. Silly really since that stage was pretty flat, and included a lot of very big, and very deep puddles. Hub deep. With dark thick water that made it impossible to see the bottom. This stage was a killer. Slow, wet, muddy. Two corners in I realized I had forgotten to let out some air from my tires so I was slipping and sliding on everything. I slid out on in a few puddles and was drenched in moments. My glasses fogged up so bad that I had to stop and take them off. This really was a disaster of a stage for me. I was pretty winded by the end, soaked, and mad at the tire pressure issue.
Off to stage 2. A long climb up, then a super technical and slippery descent to the stage start. There was the group again, but nobody was going. An official came up on a quad and we found out the volunteer that was starting the stage was in the wrong spot. Once we got situated I remembered stage 2 from last year. This one was much better for me. Tire pressure was spot on, the trails were steeper and less puddles. The loam was still flying off the tires though. I felt pretty good about this stage.
Climbing back up we went over to stage 3. I knew this one would have some big climbs in it so when I started I didn’t go all out. Sure enough there were some climbs that I had to run up. I managed to pass someone despite leaving lots of room at the start. Thankfully there was a good place to pass and he didn’t have to stop for long. The longest stage of the day was a lot of fun. The bottom third had lots of great beamed corners eventually dumping us out on to the fire road.
Back through the pits and around to stage 4. I remembered this one from last year as well. From what I remembered, it started off in the trees, kind of flat before busting out into an open area and getting steeper. Dropping into the stage I was feeling pretty good, until I hit the last big mucky section before the open area. My front tire washed out on something deep in the mud and I went down elbow first into that mud. My left grip was stuck in oozing mud and to get up, my left hand was also wrist deep in the oozing mud. I righted my bike and got going as quickly as I could. The open area was pretty good, with some decent flow and sunshine. There was a stump jump that I launched, but landing was another issue. My front tire washed out on a slippery root, the tire planted, and I got bucked. I flew a few feet, landed and rolled. No damage to me, but I had to run back up to my bike and get going again.
I wasn’t too happy with that stage but there wasn’t anything else for me to do but wait and see the results. When they were posted, I discovered that I placed 18th out of 31 racers. I’m pretty happy with that. I wasn’t too happy with how much cleanup I was going to have to do though.