My heart rate was around 170. To high, but I couldn’t stop now. I ripped a hairpin corner and leaned the bike over. It performed flawlessly and held onto its line like Velcro. I thought to myself this is the bike I have always dreamed of riding. The handle bars just inches from the apex of the corner. I was really ripping it like I was in a dream. But this was no dream and I was late for the start of the Devils Slide 2011.
I arrived at the start line all decked out representing Team Muleterro. Just in time for the 2 minute racers meeting. It went something like this. “I don’t take down times so it will be places only. Any questions”.
The people at the front of the start, Cat 1 and pro, agreed that one of the Vertical Earth’s teammates would lead out the pack. I don’t know why but agreed. I am all for a slow start. As soon as we were off a slow start was just not going to happen. The dude shot out and into the lead like a rocket and kept a pretty wicked pace until the base of the first climb. Then he peeled off to the side and the big guns took over. I cant remember the names of the big guns but I do know the top two biggest guns. The lead BG was Kevin Bradford-Parish from the EMDE Sports team and the other was Kris Holden.
So a Vertical Earth racer took to the hill first and I tucked in behind not wanting to push the suffering. Looking back I should of starting attacking right away but at the beginning of the race it is so hard to convince my inner lazy to go hard. So it was a group of 4 who pulled completely away from the rest of the field and by the top of the first climb we were all alone hammering across the plateau.
On the Devils Slide I braced for what would be my first real feedback on my new bikes ability to race down a hill. It flew and I kept right up with the leader. In past years I had fallen back on this part but now I had me a bog boy bike.
Right behind me was Kevin. On the steepest part of the slide I took the extreme drop off over the rocks and I went a little too cautiously. Kevin zipped around me on the so called “longer way around”. I was shocked at how much speed I had scrubbed. The formula brakes on my bike are way to powerful. I learned to keep a feathers touch on the lever, kind of hard considering your dropping off a extreme pitch.
Just like that I was in 3rd position. This race is so short I was nervous that Kevin would loly gag and let The Vertical Earth rider get away. There was so much communication I felt like the outsider and who know what grand scheme had been brewing. I watched the red jersey get farther and farther out. As soon as there was a place to pass I had had enough and charged after first place. Right behind me only a mere split hair away was Kevin. After lap 1 I was sitting in second place with the EMDE rider brushing against my back wheel.
I figured, “enough of this crap”, and picked up the pace to take the lead. It was such a short race my only hope was to wear out the gang. If it came down to a sprint finish I did not think I could win. So I had to make sure we were at least breaking a sweat. I felt a gap develop behind me. Too many times I have won races when the group fell asleep for a moment and I attack. So silently and without showing any kind of struggle I started applying more watts to the drivetrain. I ripped around corners and accelerated away. I wanted to get to the climb and attack real hard. Then my handlebars came loose and within minutes I was riding my bike gingerly with my hand over the end of the stem trying to keep the bolts from dropping out.
At the start of the climb the group figured that I must of blown up because I was pulling to the side and started wobbling. I was going slow and trying to get my crank brothers tool out of my jersey pocket. All three rider zipped past me and up the climb. I had no time so I figured that I must fix it without stopping. I didn’t want to lose contact. I fumbled with the tool and managed to get the screws tight. One screw I tightened so much I just knew I ruined my carbon bar. “Oh dad’s going to be mad., I thought to myself.
I looked up and the group was now two and the third, Kevin had attacked and was sprinting up the climb. I dropped it into the biggest ring and showed my wears. The bike shot up the climb like a gazelle. I went past the two riders so fast one of them said, “I’m out”. “Go Kris, this is it”.
I powered my way towards the leader of the race now at the top of the climb. He looked down the switchback to me and yelled, “common Martin”. I got out of the saddle to put in another burst when I noticed out of the side of my eye that Kris was climbing up to me. Obviously he wasn’t being dropped like his team mate who was no longer in sight. I wasn’t about to do all the work and settled into a pace and hoped he would come around to do a little pulling himself.
As we approached the Slide I knew that Kris was going to just follow my lead. Surprisingly my bike was behaving like a rock starved stallion and ripped the downhill. Even though I had tightened the bar down off center and with the sweep straight up in the air. It was like riding a bike
with drop bars turned up. By the end of the second lap I had grabbed Kevin’s wheel. Now coming across the line it was Kevin, myself, and Kris.
Everyone slowed down and I took the lead again. Maybe I could lull them into talking and then attack again. I threw back the last of my Carbo Rocket 333 as we neared the climb. I should of attacked when I heard heavy breathing but I didn’t. They had me totally intimidated and it seemed like they could go at any speed I could muster. I saved my energy and waited for an opportunity. I figured I could attack on the downhill.
As I approached the beginning of the Devils Slide Kevin darted past me. This was the move that proved my undoing because he knew I was flying on the downhill and this put him in control of the pace. I bid my time behind him until we had 1 mile to go to the finish. I figured I needed to do something or it would be a three way sprint to the line. I put the power down and went as hard as I could for 10 minutes and looked back in hopes I created a gap. Kevin was right on my ass but Kris had blown off the back. So it came down to just Kevin and I for the win.
We came around the last turn. The finish line was at the top of a steep 300 foot vertical gain. I was still in my big ring and this was a bad idea. Kevin took me on the inside and got a 3 foot gap instantly. I powered the bike up the climb the best I could in the gear I had chosen. To shift would mean a broken chain. Suddenly he bobbled on a rock and I surged. Since he had a better gear he regained his momentum and I followed him across the line.
I congratulated him and set out on a victory lap. The sun was out and it was a perfect day for a ride.