I raced the PV Derby at Peaceful Valley scout ranch. It is a fun course with a little of everything put mostly two-track. Kelly Niquette started hard up the hill and I wasn’t feeling very comfortable. I was surprised and kinda bummed to see a line or more like a group of rider right there with us at the top of the climb. The course then turns into a short single track section that descends and then gradually climbs to a short steep pitch then back onto a long dirt road section. Kelly lead into the single-track followed by Jeff Hall and myself. When we came out onto the road it was the tree of us with I think Todd Johnson and maybe Curt Wilhelm bridging the gap up to us. To this point Kelly had gone hard since the start and just before we entered the next singletrack section Kelly made a minor course error which resulted in Jeff leading into the singletrack. I was instantly wishing I was leading as it seemed Jeff was going slow. I was a little too jazzed and got stopped up twice from following Jeff to close. This resulted in me getting shuffled to the back of our little group. After this singletrack section are the only 2 real climbs on the course. We all stayed together with Kelly again pressing the pace. At this point we are about 7 miles into the race and we could see the lead group of about six 30-39 ahead of us. They were going way slower than we were. We came up on them just as we were going into some singletrack. I had told myself I was going to lead into the next singletrack so I made an effort to do so and did. It turned out better than I had expected. I made my way around the group of riders and Kelly, Jeff and Todd (others?) all got hung up in the group. It was only a few miles later and I had about a 30sec gap on Kelly who also had about a 30sec gap on the others which now seemed to be a group of 5 or six and probably a mix is my group and the 30-39 races. I was trying to ride a comfortable pace now that I had a gap. It looked like Kelly was closing the gap and I thought that was probably a good thing. It was my turn to make a course error. The problem was I could not see anyone ahead of us and there did not seem to be enough tracks on the ground. I couldn’t see anyone behind or ahead of me so I stopped. Looked back until Kelly came along and reassured me that we were on course. This was about 11 miles into the race. I lead with Kelly sitting on to the end of the first lap at which point Kelly started to lead. We had a good gap at the end of the first lap about 1.5 min. It had started to get hot and getting a new bottle was nice. Kelly and I rode together for a while but when we got to the climbs I Kelly was going really hard again. We had gotten mixed up with some single speeders who were hammering up the climbs and single speeders are apt to do (unless they are walking) I think Kelly saw an opportunity to get away with from me with another rider. I thought he was going to hard and let him ride away. Kelly put about 2 min on me that lap (1:40 laps) I was not sure I was going to see him again. About halfway through the last lap I started to see Kelly up ahead of me again. At times I thought I was gaining on him quickly and then it seemed I wouldn’t see him for abit. With about 4 miles to go I could see him about 1min ahead and he was clearly going slow. I close the 1min gap in about 2 miles. I got him in the one place on the course you had to walk over a rock. He said he was done but didn’t seem very interested in letting me by. I got by and put about 1min on him in the last 2 miles. I finished in just under 5 hrs (4:49) which was about 8min faster than I did last year. From what I hear, behind Kelly and I Jeff, Todd, and others where struggling with the early pace. Jeff is always strong and Todd was flying at Bear Creek so I was surprised they were not back with us at the end of the first lap. I head Todd seized up and didn’t finish, Jeff kept fighting but ended up 13 min back.
I have been thinking about riding pro. The 40-49 age group is really fast and we consistently beat the other younger age groups and at this race Jeff, Kelly and myself would have all been in the top 5 in the pro based on time. That said 1st place was 25 min ahead of me.