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Carrabassett Back Country Challenge 2017

Team Bikeman - Race Reports

I have a love/hate relationship with the CBCC. I love it because hey, it’s my home trails and they are awesome. I hate it because I am seemingly plagued with bad luck on this course akin to the Brady Bunch double-episode when they went to Hawaii and Greg had the cursed tiki-doll in his backpack. Save for the 2011 inaugural race, I have suffered technicals in every single one of the CBCC’s I have raced in. This year was no exception.

I was especially psyched for the race this year now that it is part of the NUE series of which I am chasing the masters title in for 2017. CBCC would be the 3rd NUE event of 2017 for me following the Big Frog in Tennessee and the Mohican 100 in Ohio. Both of those events came off swimmingly with no techincals and great performances for me with a 1st at Big Frog and a 2nd at Mohican. The weather was fantastic at both too. Then we have Carrabassett; once again the race started in a healthy drizzle in 60-ish temps promising for a slippery good time. Teammate Warren Gerrow and I chased the lead group for the first 45 minutes or so but intentionally backed off before the West Mountain climb knowing it wouldn’t be wise to follow them up the hill.

Back over on the touring center side after cresting the Trail 50 climb I managed to puncture my tire on the downhill riding like a bull in a china shop – my own damn fault. Of course with me and my entire bike coated in an inch layer of mud and grit, I anticipated tire repair to be a challenge and unfortunately I was right. My trick Samurai puncture kit failed to seat in the puncture, my CO2 head fouled and failed to fill the tube, my backup pump fouled as well and would not inflate. After seeming hours passed and I was watching guys on fat bikes start to go by, Andrew Farrell saved the day with a CO2. This got me half-inflated but enough to ride gingerly the next nine miles to the aid station where I had tubes and CO2’s in my drop. A little further down the trail Jake Inger lent me a pump and got me going full speed.

The course was probably the most challenging I’ve encountered in the history of this race. From mud holes to slippery rocks to deteriorated dirt climbs; things were rugged man. I spent the next few hours in catch-up mode which, even though I knew I shouldn’t do, I did anyway. I reeled a lot of people in, especially on the 5 mile dirt climb. Inevitably Mr. Crampy came for a visit forcing me into cramp-management mode, a skill I have been honing over the past years. I’ve been using the Hot Shot stuff lately and it seems to at least keep me on my bike and off the side of the trail screaming in agony.

The last 90 minutes was a dark place for this racer where I had to pay the price for my earlier post-flat catchup escapades. Despite ample fueling and hydration I simply burned too many matches early on and hills became a serious challenge with nothing in the tank. I know myself well in this state and for me the best tactic is to get off the bike and walk. It helps stretch the legs and alleviate cramps and frankly isn’t much slower than riding when I’m all tapped out. This is what I did up most of Crommets and Newtons. Bouncing down the rock armor of Oak Knoll I was able to ruminate on spasms in my quads and look forward to my chicken Rolling Fatty’s burrito waiting me a mere couple miles away.

I really had no clue where I stood in the pack so I just went as fast as I could for most of the race after my flat. Ends up, despite losing 20 or so minutes to flat repair, I managed a second in masters with 6:23 or so; only a couple minutes ahead of third somehow. So going into the Crotchet 100 in August I am leading the NUE Master division.

Overall though the race was a huge success with really well marked trails and as usual, awesomely staffed and stocked aid stations.

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