My trip to the east coast has so far been a wonderful experience when you are on your own like I have been for the last month it really makes things better when you meet really nice people along the way. After the Cohutta 100 I went to Brevard NC where I camped and rode in the Pisca national forest. The weather was fantastic and the riding both mountain and road are some of the best in the country. While I spent my time here I had the opportunity to get to know some of the local riders from Sycamore Cycles in Brevard. Everyone at the shop was very helpful and really cool, they had a very laid back and welcoming atmosphere. I even got a local tour of the trail system from shop owner Wes who put the hammer down on me during his lunch break one day.
Before my next race in Tennessee, the DSG race promoter Clay Higgins called me saying he had a place for me to stay at his parents house, I took him up on the offer and had a great time getting to know Clay’s parents and uncle. It’s no surprise that Clay turned out to be such a great guy after meeting and living with his family for a week, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The actual race was looking to be a good one after last years mud event everyone was really praying for some good weather. The week leading up to the race had been dry and beautiful leaving the course in perfect condition. As race day approached thundershowers were but every day went by with no rain, it looked like the bike gods were smiling on us. The day of the race started with perfect weather but looked to be really hot and humid. For me, the running start went well and I made it to my bike and took of jumping out with the group of five or so in the front.
I was feeling good so I kept a brisk pace on the first couple laps jumping out to an early lead on Brandon Draugelis and Ernesto Marenchin, who were my biggest competition. After about five or six laps I was really starting to feel the heat and my legs were starting to cramp, I had to completely slow the pace down and was really hurting at this point. The cramps were so bad I couldn’t stand up at all and push up some of the harder climbs. To make matters worse all of a sudden the sky turned dark and it started to downpour, it rained hard for about five minutes leaving the east side of the course a complete nightmare. Visions of last year were starting to come into my mind. Fortunately the rain stopped and by the time I made my way to the west side of the course it was dry what a strange turn of events the way the course was set up you would traverse from one side to the other going from perfectly dry into a complete mess and vice verse, it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
The lowest portion of the course particular was really bad and by the time I came in to do a third lap of mud they made the decision to shorten the course bypassing the muddiest section, this was a good call people were starting to drop out all ready because of the conditions, then when the decision was made to shorten the course and people saw how things were drying out everyone got back into it.
My race went downhill after the rain, my leg cramps continued and Brandon passed me. He was riding strong and at that point I couldn’t even jump on his wheel. I settled in and decided to just hold on for second, then slowly I started to feel better and my last two laps I felt great but it was to late. Brandon was faster that day so I was happy with second.
Dirt Sweat and Gears is one of my favorite races of the year the people the vibe the feel of the race is really positive. I have a great time every year at this race and this year especially was no exception I will be back next year and as long as they hold the race it will be an annual event for me.