I went back for the 3rd time to the Vermont 50 mountain bike race. This race is really 5 months of preparation, from the super stressful registration process in May (sells out in minutes, 650 riders), to the mountain bike Bear Mountain repeats in September. When everyone else is getting hand ups and chilling I keep the push on.
Last year I finished 5th- but as I said at the end of last years recap, I was going back for a podium. I was only 5 minutes off a step last year. So this year I worked harder- did more bear mountain repeats (even had some company at times). Unlike last year I had a really healthy and strong end to my season.
Just like last year, I drove up the night before and got no sleep again. The start was cold at ~38 degree and it was going to only peak at ~50 by the time I planned on finishing. I had a bit of a scramble at the start as the last minute port o potty lines were really long. I got to the start just in time- pushed my way through and got on the front group. This is a huge key to my race- get in with the fast geared riders so that I have wheels to ride. Being on the Singlespeed limits my top end pedaling speed on those Vermont dirt roads so getting a good draft is huge.
It was cold- first time since April that I felt cold so it was a bit rough getting warm even with all the climbing.
Once again the long climbs felt amazing. I was out of the saddle and just passing riders at a great pace. I once again upped my gearing choice this year. And while the climbs and roads felt great, it was a bit too heavy for the short muddy steep stuff. So I lost some ground to geared riders who were literally spinning their 42's up those climbs (that pie in the back is changing the sport).
My plan was to ride a pace that felt hard but to save something for the last 1/2 as long as I was on time. I nerded out and had times that I wanted to hit taped to my top-tube. If I could hit the 1st half times I would have a great chance of getting on the podium.
The start was in the dark so knowing exactly how many Singlespeeds were in front of me is so hard to know. I saw 3 on the start go out hard so I had an idea but wasn't sure.
About 17 miles in we hit a nasty grass field section that hurts really bad- as I was coming up I saw a fellow Singlespeed rider just start walking it and I knew I had to give it my all. So I attacked there and pushed through hard over the top. And I got over the top and gone. My harder gear made the climbing hard but the speed was awesome.
At the 25 mile mark I was about 3 minutes up on where I needed to be but I didn't know that they added a new single track section that would slow me down later on.
I kept pushing hard and passed another Singlespeed rider at around mile 30 as he stopped at an aid station. My plan was to just ride the whole thing with minimal stops. Push through the aid stations and finish on fumes. I was there to podium and I knew it was going to hurt.
I started playing back and forth with a couple of racers. They would pass me on the long downhills (they could peddle their array of gears and had full suspension bikes) and I would catch up on the climbs. At mile 37 I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade (I should have said yes when they offered me 1/2 water)...
And then I just gave it my all. I know this part of the course the best and knew where I could push hard. I dropped a few more riders and drilled the road in the most aero position I possibly could. And I was moving.
As I came over the last climb and began my descent into the finish I knew I was close. I went on to finish in 4:47. That was 3 minutes over my goal time but good enough for 3rd place in the Singlespeed division.
Time to thank the people who got me to this and many other finish lines over the course of this year. Thanks to the Team/Commuters-once again you are a great crew to ride with each and every day- and I hope that one day you all finally do understand what "Evan slow" actually is… To our sponsors, Breakaway Courier, Team Boomer, and Carve Systems. You guys all rock- and this year I was zipped up so I’ll have more race pics soon.
And to Joe Azze (was a huge support this year) and Mountain Peak Fitness who make me suffer and at the same time tell me to just enjoy the ride. You make me work hard and I get to reap the benefits of that hard work. The knowledge and the trust I have in what you do continues to allow me to race my bike and enjoy every moment of it.
And last but not least I thank my wife- Robin- who allows (puts up with) my racing and training. Getting up at 5am to ride to the trails in the dark to get in an extra hill or two is not exactly normal.
- 1st place Will Crissman (4:28:50)
- 2nd Place David Hoyle (4:37:58)
- 3rd Place Evan Fineman (4:48:07).
- Top 50 below, click for full results.