A few weeks back, Eboz had the crazy idea that if we were heading up to Tahoe for the LT Series Tahoe Trail 100k, we should also stop by his place in Mammoth the day before and race nationals. This is how he thinks. Sure, why not? We piled in the car on Thursday afternoon and pace lined up to Mammoth with Jesse Anthony who somehow closed a 45min departure gap and beat us to the house.
We unloaded and hit the course for a pre-ride with Ettinger, which was pretty cool. He and Eric smoked the technical downhill section and I was nervous knowing that I’d automatically loose 15-20 seconds a lap on the last mile of the course. We worked on finding the lines in the loose moon dust and I hoped for the best.
I love pro start times. I don’t love pro XC I love pro start times. I don’t love pro XCraces. They are short (usually), furiously fast, and I always have a terrible start position in the very back (deservedly so). Mammoth was a bit different. The race was run through USAC and left much to be desired. When you pay $100 for an XC race you expect at least a shirt, maybe a pair of socks, at least a free pack of Gu? Nope. Nothing. A Benjamin buys a flimsy plastic number plate, which I cracked in approximately 12 seconds. Oh well.
The line up was chaotic. There were two corrals but the volunteers didn’t know which way to face us or how how we’d enter to the line. Eventually we figured it out and again I was just about dead last. I was called up about about third from last. The field was larger than I expected and close to 50 riders. I’d heard that the day before only about 20-30 were signed up so there must have been a bunch of last minute additions. The altitude was a huge factor. At 8000+ feet the starting line is a lot higher than many racers are used to unless you live and train in Colorado.
The gun went off and it was immediately apparent who was used to the thin air. The first half of the course is basically one long two mile climb and guys were gassed right off the gun. Of course Grotts went out flying. When I finally saw him again I was on my 5th lap and he was on his 6th with a huge lead. I knew I had to go out hard on the start and pass as many people as possible before the singletrack started. The start was the same as Mammoth Kamikaze XC a few years ago so I knew what to do.
When the dust settled I made all six laps without getting pulled. Eric was 13th and came in 17th, just shy of 2 hours. It was a long day for XC and I knew the next day at Tahoe would be even more brutal. So much for a short leg opener day. Thanks Eboz.