Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marathon Nat's...and the winner is

Adam Craig

With high school and colleges beginning classes recently, it was fitting that Adam "schooled" the rest of the field during the 52 mile Marathon National Championship race in a time of 3 hours 10 min.  Adam's former Giant Factory teammate and training partner, Carl Decker, was the only rider to match the speed finishing a close 2nd.

The race began with a neutral roll out on pavement for 2 miles and then continued down the road for another 3.5 miles before ducking into the first singletrack/doubletrack section.  This section of trail was a taste of what was ahead for the next 45+ miles.  DUST! and lots of it.  This photo says it all, just look at the layers of dust covering my face. (nice V on the forehead)

Alot of the early fireroad riding was similar to riding in Moab (like on a beach).  Typically this time of year in Central Oregon the trails are soft and dusty, but this seemed to be the worst I have seen the trails.  Not sure if it was due to the fact that so many riders have been riding them lately (with the 24 Hours of Bend race last weekend and Marathon Nat's this weekend).  I guess I needed to ride faster to avoid the dust clouds.

After 3+ more miles of fireroad riding, we entered a new singletrack section (Steve Larsen Trail...built in memory of the late Steve Larsen) which was pretty sweet.  Lots of rolling switchbacks with a few technical sections thrown in.  By the time we reached the bottom of Funner Trail, Brig, myself and James were riding together sitting in 14th,15th and 16th respectively.  By the time we grunted and grunted some more and reached the top of Funner Brig and I had put some time on James and had passed several other riders.  While grabbing a much needed full bottle of fuel from Jenny in the feed zone. Brig and I rode together through some of the sweetest singletrack riding in Bend, the start of the Tiddlewinks descent.  This section of Trail includes lots of tight singletrack switchbacks while riding through tight trees, and the trail is much more packed down. 

Adam leading Carl through feed zone #1

We then reached the Dina Moh Humm Trail; which was a 12 mile loop in between the feed zones.  This section is relatively new and is another example of the excellent work that COTA does building trails.  Brig and I caught and passed a Sportsman and Ski Haus rider, and slowly brig began to open the gap on me.  Knowing that there was a 6-mile fireroad section still ahead leading back to the 2nd feed zone, I didn't want to be caught in no-man's land riding solo.  Well damn it, that's exactly what happened.  Shit!  With a huge grin still on my face from riding the singletrack, it quickly turned to a frown because I found myself alone on the fireroad fighting the wind.  I could see Brig up ahead with 1 or 2 other riders and they were working together trading pulls opening up a bigger gap on me.  I looked back and didn't see anyone behind me.  Then after 4 miles and just before we turned left up another fireroad I noticed the (2) Sportsman and Ski Haus riders right behind me.  Ugghhh.   We entered the 2nd feed zone together and once again I received a much needed full bottle of fuel from my support crew (Jenny and Robyn). 

The three of us rode together as we now began the Tiddlewinks descent again, this time riding it all the way down to Storm King.  This is where I think Adam and Carl were able to put lots of time on their competitors.  Adam and Carl are probably the two best XC downhill riders in the country (both do many Super D races and win; hence Downeville Classic 2009, 2010 and Super D Nationals this year in Idaho). 

I'm not the best descender, however, I was able to pull away front the Sportsman and Ski Haus duo on the descent and even catch another rider before reaching teh start of Storm King; which would be another 6 or so miles of mostly downhill.  By the time I popped out onto Conklin Rd. my forearms were burning.  All that was left was a 5 mile pavement section and a few singletrack sections thrown in towards the finish; enough to just piss you off.  Funny thing is, I didn't even know some of these trails existed.  I could feel my energy quickly beginning to evaporate from my body and that was evident when 5 riders passed me on the pavement.  I did notice that 4 of them were all on 29'ers.  Just before we turned in on a trail that went behind the Athletic Club of Bend, I noticed that one of the Hammer riders and James were now behind me.   They both eventually passed me too adding insult to injury.  We all three crossed the finish line with the other 2 duking it out in a sprint, while I crossed the line deflated.

 finish line!

I had a good race, but much like the Masters Road National Championship race, I would have liked to finish things off better than I did.  I was hoping to be able to pull out a Top 15, but unfortunately ended up 24th. 

Congratulations to Adam.  It was good to see the Stars and Stripes jersey stay local and go to a Bend rider, stripping JHK of his chance to 3-peat.   Nice job Adam.

No comments: