It is my third time doing The Growler and I look forward to this really great mountain bike race. The trails out at Hartman’s rock in Gunnison are a good mix of fast, flowy, bermed-out, rollercoaster riding with plenty off technical riding to keep you in check. There’s not much for long climbs, but there is some significant vertical gain.
The 4:45am wakeup is never fun, and when you look outside to see that it’s raining and about 35 degrees it kills (my) motivation for racing. By 6:00 am the rain was letting up but temps were still chilly and there was going to be some mud to deal with on the first of two 32-mile laps… After the first big hill to thin out the masses I was just behind the first 5 racers and felt good about my position. In the past, I’ve tried to stay out front but I felt good to settle into a good pace and deal with the slick conditions. The trail was not the worst mud I’ve ever seen by any means but there were sections that were un-rideable.
By the second lap I had moved into second place, the sun had come out and things were drying up. I felt great and really put the hammer down, going as hard as I could for the lap. Unfortunately my bike was not happy and I was getting bad chain suck and couldn’t ride in my little ring. This went on for a while, luckily there was an aid station about halfway through and was able to get some lube. The dirt at this point had dried out and became hero dirt! It was a rail fest and you could go as fast as you wanted into the berms, super fun riding… I was able to stay ahead of three chasers for second place. 64 miles is a little short for my taste but the quality of riding and the quality of the event brings my back year after year.