A week ago I looked at the extended forcast for Sunday (cause that’s what I do). Weatherman said it was going to be partly cloudy with a chance of showers. What if you had a job where you got paid no matter information you provided your clients? Is it too late for me to go bact to school to be a weather man? Anyway…

So as most of you by now know, it rained the day before and much of the week prior to The Grind. This was my first time at the Grind since I missed it last year. It was also my first race in the Expert division. Well, let’s just say after it was all said and done, I now know why it’s called the grind.  Course description: Mud with roots.  One water Crossing to clean it off, then back into the Mud immediately after.  Plywood bridges with Mud on them, lots of switchbacks with Mud in the corners.  There were also a few straight away sections were you may have been able to fly if it wasn’t for the Mud!

The start: 10 seconds… Go…

Since EFTA gave NEMBA a prime location for our ultra high quality Tent, Steve C. And I slid into row one. This would be super important since you really wanted to be in the first 4 or 5 spots heading into the woods. Immediately the grass field turns into roots and mud. I told Steve since he’s been here before I was going to do my best to sit on his wheel as long as I could. It was Andy Gould, another guy, Steve, and myself into the woods. During the first mud section Steve lost his front wheel to a tough line and we changed spots. Riding behind the second place guy, I could already see the gap forming behind Steve. I suggested to the rider in front that we put the hammer down a bit more. “let’s put it down, and kill their spirits”. So rider 2 picked it up a bit more and after about a mile he was done, and it was time to pass. Wait a minute was I now in 2nd? How could this be? Better enjoy this while it lasts, after all there’s no way I can ride at or near redline for three laps.

Lap 2 still in 2nd. How could this be? ( I said this to myself many times). I would keep seeing Gould and it seemed like I was catching him. Was I? Yes I was? By the midpoint of the race I had moved to within 4 or 5 seconds! That however was as far as I would get.    I would begin to start to pay for my effort by the last lap. This was also the time when the heavens opened an the torrential monsoon began turning an already slick course into PBJ. Peanut butter in spots, and jelly in the corners.

Lap 3 Pain
This was my kind of race, cool temps, technical, and super flat. My nutrition and hydration is usually really good. Race should be completed in or around 1:30ish . Had one bottle aboard the Fisher and made the mistake of not finishing it. By lap three Steve had returned and brought a couple guys with him. Rode his wheel for as long as I could before the elastic snapped, and by that time I was doing anything I could to keep whoever was behind me in check. Crossed the line in 4th a bit behind Steve.

More than pleased with my results in my first Expert race. Did I mention I was racing angry due to the loss of my Superfly? Yep, still mad about that! So why do they call it the grind? Perhaps it’s the grinding of mud stuck in your gears? Your teeth? Or the tremendous amount of effort it takes to grind it out? Whatever it is it was right up there for technical difficulty with TVR (Treasure, Valley Rally).  There were at least 4 spots where you were better off running than riding.

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