Matt Donahue

Friday, July 29, 2005

First Podium - Michaux II Curse of Dark Hollow

Another late race blog... but here is my report for the second race of the Michaux Mega Series, The Curse of Dark Hollow from July 24th. After a sweltering week of mid 90s and high humidity (heat index in the 100s) Sunday dawned dry and cool, perfect upper 70s low 80s. Katie came to the race as well which was totally cool. She gave me great support, took some photos of me and enjoyed the venue.

Not to ruin the punch-line, but this race was the first time I've ever made the podium in a mountain bike race. I got second. The interesting part was that the race was surprisingly uneventful. The real action was in the first 5 minutes during the mass start up a long, slightly uphill dirt road. 3 riders from the sport class one SrI, a SrII, and a Vet led a sprint right off the start line. I jumped in on their wheel(s) and the four of us promptly dropped the rest of the pack, very much dropped them. Around the top of the start hill as the course wrapped its way through the camp area these 3 guys dropped me. I figured I should avoid blowing up during the first mile so I decided to dial it down a notch, after all there were at least 19 more miles to go during which I could try catching these guys.

Strangely, I kept thinking I would catch up with the sport leaders as I couldn't imagine they would be continue to lengthen their lead by so much. I was also slightly worried that I would be caught by the guys behind me, as that was what happened to me at the last Michaux race. But I rode the remaining 18 miles essentially alone, with no other sport racers in sight. I only caught some lagging experts who were probably recovering from crashes or flats. I saw Pooch, our team captain, up the trail a bit, but was unable to catch him.

The course was awesome, some super technical sections with lots of big sharp rocks that demanded balance and careful riding. I dabbed a bit on some sections but was able to ride nearly everything. No falls either!

Throughout the race I was continually worried that I would be caught. At one point I was on a forest road that afforded long views forward and back, maybe about a mile or so- not a soul in sight the entire mile. I think I ended up about 7 minutes behind the winner - he won sport and was in my class, SrI. 7 minutes is a big margin, but the next closest rider to me was a Sr. II, 3 minutes behind. The next SrI appears to be over 9 minutes behind me. So there was no dramatic sprint or battle through the woods with other riders making a similar pace to me. A fall or a flat tire would have changed things for sure.

I gave my prize to Katie - I let her pick what she wanted, a hydration pack (sweet prizes at this race), as a thank you for coming all the way up there to watch and support me!


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