The Mountain Man is one of favorite races out there, having participated in this since 1996 or 1997. Not every year, but I have quite a few Mountain Man sweatshirts floating around.
This year I hadn't done any run prep, and while I've done the "off the couch" thing before, I didn't want to do that to myself this year. Also, after getting third last year, with at least a little running in my legs, I didn't want to go backwards.
So...I had the bright idea to do it relay with my 9 year old nephew. Chris, the promoter, basically created this category for us, which was cool. I've seen folks do relay before, mostly father/son type of deal. Since my son is 5 months old, that probably wasn't going to work out yet.
Race day brought some amazing weather, and we were pumped. My nephew had a great run, coming in safely at 17:30. He handed off the "baton" and I was off. I knew I could go eye-bleeding hard since I didn't have to run afterwards. And, although my eyes didn't bleed, I did almost think I was going to black out. We had about 25 or so in front of us, so I had plenty of rabbits. I think I caught 10 to 12 on the first little climb up Patriot's, then kept moving forward from there. My goal was to catch everyone and to set a new fastest lap time. I knew the leaders had about 5 minutes on me, and one was former professional Jonathan Erdyli (sp). While not a mountain biker, he's good on his mountain bike on terrain like LM.
I kept pushing and pushing and came in on my first lap at about 20.5 minutes. I knew I had bested my fast lap from last year, as I would hope, and felt good for a second lap. I hit it hard, and chased down a handful more. I started recognizing the jerseys of the leaders, and when I saw last year's winner, I knew I was in good shape. However, I caught him just before the roller coaster at the end.
So I came in hot with the fastest bike time by 5 minutes. Honestly, I would have been a bit embarrassed if I didn't since I had fresh legs. I didn't think I caught everyone, and I didn't, but my family was cheering saying "great job!" I asked, "How many?" and it turns out it was only Erdyli and he was only 15 seconds up! Doh! So my nephew was off.
He did GREAT, and only had 3 people pass him. He was 30 seconds faster than his first run, and he attributed this to no traffic.
He came in and put us in 5th overall, and 1st (out of one ) relay team. He was soooo pumped that it totally made my day! For a point of fact, he's a very good, competitive runner, but had never trail run before. When he gets a little older and some more experience...look out.
Chris, after 26 years, is seriously considering adding a relay category. I hope he does as this will really open this event up to more mountain bikers and only add to the fun nature of this race.
What a super day!
And, as a bonus, my teammate Kris Weber showed up and it was great seeing him. He ROCKED the course and finished FIRST in his age bracket. Congrats, Weber!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.