Posted on 7:33 AM by Schottler
Like I said earlier, I have been stressing about this race since I finished last year. I was a nervous wreck leading up to it, even dragging Green Beans in to it by driving me around before we left to track down the UPS truck to get the bibs I needed (did not find him.) This strapped on to the front of my bike didn't help the stress level:
As predicted, more horsepower showed up this year. Toeing the line was Steve Tilford, Bill Stolte, Garth Prosser, Scott Henry, Jeff Winkler, Eric Pirtle, Brad Huff, Devin Clark, Mike Best, Dwayne Goscinski, Cale McAninch, Ploch, all the usual local fast guys, and many others... 250 total to be exact. I had a giant bullseye strapped to my back. The start of the race began with an M-80 just a few feet from us, then began the 4 mileish gravel section, mostly climbing, to a section of double track through the woods. The promoters made the start MUCH more interesting this year with a $50 prime to the first one in the single track. Attack after attack, with most of the leaders gauging how I was responding to the accelerations. The pace was fast, but I was able to chase down attacks and stay right in the first 3. Tilford and Scott battled it out for the prime, I didn't contend, I was more than happy to let them pull me in to the woods and save some energy. At this time we were left with a group of 4; Tilford, Scott, Bill, and myself. Once we got into the singletrack it was down to Tilford, Scott, and myself, with no one else in sight.
Scott had a huge motor, he was drilling the climbs, and I was starting to hurt. Thankfully I was able to make up time, recover, and use less energy through the single track and on the descents. All 3 of us were together coming through checkpoint 1 and 2, at 21 miles in. Maybe 4 or 5 miles after the second checkpoint, Tilford flatted. It was now down to Scott and myself. Pace seemed to have picked up at this point and I was trying to figure out what I should do. I tried attacking through the single track, but I ended up going so fast I was shooting past the corners and taking unnecessary risks on the descents, hardly putting any time on him. I came to the conclusion that Scott and I were pretty equally matched, but with different strengths. I couldn't climb as well as him, however I could flow through the single track and descend more quickly. I let him go on one of the climbs and fell back about 15 seconds. This way I could ride my own race, not his, which saved myself tons of energy. All the way to checkpoint 3 we yo-yo'd back and forth.
At checkpoint 3 I was on his wheel again and it was all gravel/road to checkpoint 4. We decided to trade 15-20 second pulls. We were flying, easily averaging over 20. Coming into to Berryman campground, checkpoint 4, we both grabbed water/snacks and took off together. I downed some more electrolyte capsules, a banana, and water bottles 5 and 6 of the day. The next check was the finish and it was becoming obvious it would come down to a sprint finish.
I took a pull after checkpoint 4 and brought the speed way up and nearly killed myself on a technical section that consisted of a drop and some huge rocks, but somehow kept it upright. That was my last attempt of trying to get away. The rest of the race we stayed together and I was able to stay somewhat comfortable on the climbs and comfortable on the flats and through the single track.
The last 4 or 5 miles of the race was gravel all the way to the finish. We still took pulls, but somehow my pulls ended up being after the climbs, which left me no time to recover. Through the last long gravel descent and into the flat finish area I was pulling, Scott was happy to get a draft in the head/cross wind. We slowed way down... just waiting for one of us to do something. We both attacked at the same time through a loose sand section, neither of us got anywhere. All that was left was a flat straight and 90 degree left turn to the finish. Our pace nearly came down to a crawl, with me on the front and Scott getting a small draft... both of us waiting for the perfect time to hit it. The left turn was coming up and time was running out. I accelerated hard, gave it everything I had, and took a sharp inside line to the finish straight and was able to hold it by about half a bike length. I won the effing Berryman for the 2nd year in a row! The record I set last year was completely shattered, I finished in 4:14.41, 25 minutes faster... 25 MINUTES! Here is a picture of the finishing corner, little 2 wheel drift action in the gravel. Photo stolen from Steve Tilfords blog.
The inside line to the finish is how I won, it caught Scott by surprise and he had no time to get around me. I got lucky, again. I also just learned that Scott raced for Trek/VW and has a pretty impressive racing resume... it really is an awesome experience to be able to battle with him and Tilford all day long, I never thought I would ever be able to do that... it's something I won't ever forget. Here is a photo of the top 10 this year, stolen from Mike Best, who is the only person to finish top 10 all 3 years... great way to represent BOCOMO!
The weekend was amazing, weather was perfect, got to hang out with good friends, drank free beer and ate free food. Beans again helped me win by making his secret amazing breakfast. Also a big thanks to Donovan Evans for giving me a set of replacement Time pedals. John and Donovan also sat at the Berryman campground checkpoint all day doing bottle/food handups, HUGE thanks! Ryan and Scott again put on a top notch event, I couldn't ask for more. I can't complain about the payout either: