The Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge has become one of my favorite races of the year. For me it combines all my favorite aspects of racing. A well balanced course, distance (100K option), a removed adventure feel, and it benefits a great cause (local trail building efforts). I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them really dial in their operation over the last few years and their registration numbers are growing as a direct result. I believe this year was their biggest and I’m sure that trend will continue. Tip of the hat to you ladies and gents…keep up the great work!
Now to my somewhat laughable go at this year’s edition…
I’ve done somewhere between 10-15 100K races in my career. I could find you the exact number but I’m too lazy. I’ve had the good fortune of finishing every single one of those races with hardly any issues and I have managed to pretty consistently improve my times at that distance down to sub 6hrs. Sometimes a track record like that can cause the Cosmos to want to even the scales in dramatic fashion and this past weekend my number came up.
Fast forward to a few hours before my start. Folks are milling around the parking lot getting bikes and bodies prepped. A Ford Transit from a bike shop in Maine (I think?) pulled up and parked next to me. He had a van full of Niners and we chatted about how he also had a ROS9+. He asked me about my rims and whether or not I had had any problems with them yet. He mentioned how he had destroyed his and that he had heard lots of stories about others having issues with the 1st generation HUGO’s. I told him “Nope! They’ve been great so far no issues!” Now that I had thoroughly taunted the Universe at large I figured I’d get a little warm up in before the start.
I know this course fairly well at this point and I was looking forward to the early parts of the course. It suits me well and provides a great warm up before things get serious. It can get a bit crazy though as the Elites, Experts and SS all head out in a mass start. Things always get sorted fine but the first few miles are typically pretty high speed single file shred. At the gun I got myself up to the top 25% or so of the field and was feeling ok there. Weather was perfect and I was getting settled in a nice tempo mentally preparing myself for a long day in the saddle. Got the first little section of singletrack out of the way and popped back out onto some nordic trails. The train was flying down a little downhill section and up in front I could hear folks ‘slapping’ through a little divot in the trail that had a rock at the bottom of it. Almost like a mini water bar of sorts. You’d hear the tap-tap as guys absorbed and continued on. Wasn’t anything crazy and it didn’t seem to be causing anyone a second thought.
It came to be my turn and my 29+ failed me. Hard telling if it was just an early rim failure due to speed and force or too low pressure on my part. I’ve been running the pressure I was at to great success for months now riding burly trails pretty aggressively from time to time. It happened fast but I never really felt (or heard) a rim out on the rock. Just heard the tire go flat fast. Pulled over and spun it around fast giving it a quick once over. I didn’t notice anything at that point and hit it with CO2 hoping to set the bead again and be on my way thinking it was just a violent burp. But all my CO2 did was shoot Stan’s from the real problem which was a smashed (and cracked rim).
For a moment I thought about going caveman on it with rocks but then thought better about riding another 62+ miles on a caveman’d rim. Yes that’s right my DNF came at mile 1.5. Such is life. Luckily I’ve reached a certain level of Zen with my racing nowadays and something like this doesn’t even phase me. No frustration at all, just an acceptance with a bit of mild sadness for all the rad trails I missed out on this year. Took the (short) walk of shame back to the start and drowned my minimal woes with a few early AM beers.
I’ve received word today that Stan’s is standing by their product and is going to warranty the rim and I’ve heard rumors that the 2nd gen HUGO’s are much stronger. I’ll be back at it in no time. Next up is the Boston Rebellion PRO XCT at Adam’s Farm. That is looking like it is going to be a mega event this year. Everyone should come and hang out at the NEMBA Tent and race some bikes, drink some beers and heckle some World Cup level racers.