The Wildflower Rush was a race I did on the side of road racing because otherwise I wouldn-t race for three straight weekends. I had been thinking about doing some mountain bike racing this summer, and when my friend’s family invited us to stay at their house in Crested Butte, it was the perfect opportunity.
As the U14 Junior Men jostled for position to roll out to the start line, the official announced that the start wasn’t until 12:46, sixteen minutes later than posted. I rode off to get in a little more warm-up. However, most people had stayed and I ended up against the barrier with a folding sign in front of me.
When the whistle sounded I clipped in quickly and was about third going into the first corner on the road. After a fast section on the road there was a steep dirt road. Several riders passed me, but I passed most of them before the start of the single track. My extra warm-up had paid off. I was in fourth when the rider ahead of me had to unclip on a technical section. I passed him and soon caught second place, who had gotten the hole shot. It turned out he had gone out too hard and I passed him as soon as I could. The leader, Jake Yakkle, had sat up and I recovered on my way to catch him. Since we were going slowly, I was afraid we would be caught and I passed him as soon as possible, when he tipped over.
I led the race for a while, making accelerations to try and drop Jake. He slowly faded until he was about twenty or thirty seconds behind. However, he still had something left in the tank and caught up to me on the downhill just after the top of Paradise Bowl. I consider myself a good descender, but I guess I-m just a roadie. I was absolutely flying to try and lose him, but he stayed with me.
At the bottom of Columbine Hill, where the Super-D and Cross-Country courses merge, Jake made a dicey pass, cutting way inside the course marker. At that point, I knew it would be super difficult to pass, and I was right. Again he cut a switchback, but I didn-t want to do the same thing because it would be bad sportsmanship and I would risk being disqualified. I was right, I couldn-t get back around him and I came in second.
They say second is the most disappointing place, and I agree. On the podium, my disappointment turned to satisfaction because there-s always room for improvement, and this is just the start.