Monday, April 15, 2013

Austin Rattler 100

I don't own a MTB but if there's a endurance MTB race around the area I definitely wanted to be part of it. First and foremost the idea of 60miles at Rocky Hill Ranch looked like to be tons of fun and second, it's great training for the road.

Last year the Austin Rattler 100 (Leadville Qualifier) conflicted with some Crits but this year that weekend was "free" so I asked Robby Ketterhagen to let me borrow his slick Flash 29'er Hardtail. Perfect rig for that course in my opinion. The original Rocky Hill loop consists out of lots of fast singletrack and only a handful of very tricky sections. For this race, they modified the loop a bit to simulate Leadville a bit more and added bunch of jeep road and more open/riding through the field stuff. Still, we did about 2-3miles of pure singletrack on the new, modified 15mile loop put together by no other than Paul Uhl - the man in charge at Rocky Hill and father of local MTB badass Tristan Uhl.

Together with the 787 teammates Robert & Shiva I showed up EARLY (it was still dark) at the Ranch only to discover that a) my race number blew off my bike while driving out there and b) that I forgotten my wallet. Duh. I remember they were pretty picky about having ID for number pick-up but all was cool and I actually got a even nicer start # at registration.

It was good to see some fellow "roadies" come out for this, as I ran into Brian Jensen from Kansas who was coming down to train (and aiming at Leadville this year) and wanting to escape the chilly Midwest weather.

After staging and a rather "interesting" (electrical) national anthem 500-600 guys and girls set off all at once for 4 laps totaling 60miles on the "new"  course. It was a rather mellow roll-out and I was riding in the Top 15 staying out of trouble. First time up FatChuck's Revenge there was a slight separation and we suddenly had a front group of ~15guys riding solid Tempo. The same guy (Orbea) from Colorado was setting a solid pace, I was wondering how long he can ride like that. Through the first single track the Best separated from the rest...Tristan Uhl, JT Cody, Brian Jensen and the Orbea rider got a gap and I was for 10minutes or so in "nomansland"....Until a strong group including Robert (787), Robbie R. (BicycleSportShop), Chris P. (RBM), Dave Wiens (who was down in TX to promote the Series) etc. caught up to me. We rode a steady pace and swapped pulls but the 4 guys in front were getting out of sight and we were racing for 4th place with 2 laps to go.

The group whittled down more and more until it was just Robbie, Dave, Chris and I. I think Mr. Wiens flatted once and also hasn't been able to ride/train as much as we are here in spoiled, Texas weather so with a lap or so to go it was just me & Robbie racing for 4th now (the Orbea guy had and untimely flat and ran a spoke through his rim/tube). Obviously, Robbie can kick my a$$ on the single track and so he did on the 2nd to last section just before "The Wall" and I lost him through the woods. It was fun, though and I was happy to roll in 5th place...10 or so minutes behind 2012 and 2013 champ Tristan.

 2 laps to go: me, Dave & Robbie R.

 Top 25 Overall, Austin Rattler 100