Racing at Bear Brook is back! And in a big way at that, The State9 Racing crew did a great job as first time promoters. I was there early helping out so I got to see first hand how everyone pitched in to bring this event to fruition. The more I volunteer at races the more respect I have for promoters and the folks who run the various Summer series races. There is a ton of work and coordination going on just to make sure you can race your bike. Be sure to thank all those busy people running around doing their best to keep things running smoothly.
I worked the hustle and bustle of early morning registration right up until it was time to quickly get changed and over to the start line for the Cat2’s. Warming up is for chumps! Lots of big fields in Cat2 (and Cat3 and 1 for that matter!) and I slotted in midpack for the start. I no longer concern myself with getting to the front early. Having emerged to the other side from some health issues and having been at this for a good amount of years now my race strategy is much more Zen than anything else. Winning a race is something I’m now defining for myself and I can win races without finishing first which essentially means it is impossible to ‘beat’ me. You can train for 25hrs a week and smash out loads more watts than me but I’m still going to win. On the flip side you could DFL and also still win. Everyone wins! But I can guarantee you won’t beat me. Make sense?
This was a fast course and we wasted no time getting right to it. The start was laid out really well. Just enough time and just enough climbing to get things strung out before the first little bit of singletrack and then it was just shred/hammer/shred/hammer repeat as necessary for 1.5hrs. Front group got away from me on the first longer fire road section but I was hanging in the second group without issue. I love the Sentinal switchback climb and it was cool to be hammering up that in a conga line everybody maxed out. I got passed by some power guys on the longer drag up Sentinal after the switchbacks and was unable to get some of those passes back before hitting Carr Ridge.
Carr Ridge backed up a bit as folks tried to navigate the burl without dying. I didn’t witness any spectacular crashes although I heard some did indeed happen. I was pleased with how my ROS9+ handled that stuff. I was a bit worried the rigid would really slow me down and beat me up but things worked out just fine and I even needed to request some full suspension race rigs get out of the way so I could continue my shred.
Second climb up Lane Trail was a grind but pretty manageable. Luckily I was able to keep those guys with more power than me close and I was able to suck some wheels to stay in that second group that was starting to splinter. I hitched a ride with Brandon B. as he smashed the fire road back over to Hayes and the start of Little Bear. Have to tip the hat to the Southern NH chapter of NEMBA for Little Bear (and all the other great stuff on the course) really awesome stuff and in such great shape. The descent down Little Bear and continuing onto Upper and Lower Bear Brook all the way to the finish was such a fun stretch.
Traffic had cleared out a bit and lap 2 was super fun. I had a bit more room to pick my own lines and ride Carr Ridge and Little Bear ‘unencumbered’. Really a treat. Trails were in such perfect shape for that slightly slippery but ultimately grippy experience. So fun to just let it run and I thoroughly enjoyed the added traction of running 3in tires at 12psi. I felt like I rode hard and finished strong but I also felt a bit too good at the finish and I probably should have gone harder. But it didn’t matter because I still won* (see above).
Felt great to be back at it at a local event that seemed to go off without a hitch. I think this event set a great precedent that racing at Bear Brook should continue well into the future. I’d love to see State9 try to incorporate more of the trails in the park. Maybe go for a similar format to Landmine with a 20+ mile single lap with offshoots for Cat2 and 3 and a two lap Marathon Class? I’m sure that’s not that much more work for you guys to pull off right?…..right? I promise to help with reg again if that helps.