Let's start right off by saying that the Barn Burner was really awesome. A great new race venue, deceivingly difficult course, plenty of parking, very well organized, free beer if you stuck around long enough (Harpoon Summer is quite tasty fyi), prizes, raffle, kids races. It had everything. And so well run it was hard to believe this was the first edition.
The course: if you rode this for fun, you'd think it was pretty easy. Couple of short steep hills, some slick roots parallel to the trail, one tough-but-rideable rock garden...and otherwise pretty fun and slow-flowy.
Racing it is a different story, I think because there really aren't many places to coast. You're constantly on the gas and it wears you down. Big time. There were quite a few shelled racers at the finish.
So this was like the single speed open world championships of New England. 21 pre-registered was the biggest SS field I've seen except for maybe the Cat 2 SS race at Massasoit a couple of years ago.
Lots of big hitters too. And some guys I didn't know, but who looked strong and had nice kits (I especially liked the matching Zanconato bike and kit...the googles tell me it might have been Matt Myette? Sharp.).
Sea Sports Teammates Tim Johnson, Gabe Agaman and I all pre-rode the course, which was, in retrospect, a mistake. I flatted and we all probably exerted more than we should have. Teammate Jeff Craddock had the right idea in not pre-riding, though navigating his two kids around the kid race probably was even more taxing.
So we lined up for the race and GO! and 20 people hurtled up the double track spinning like crazy to try to gain the single track holeshot. I have no idea what happened at the front as I was quickly far behind. I spent lap 1 and lap 2 working hard to make up spaces. I figured I had made it to about 5th after 2 laps and knew there were a couple guys I have beaten in the past in front of me, so I felt pretty good.
And then the bottom fell out.
If lap 3 of my race was a music festival, it would be called Bonkeroo. Or Bonkapalooza. Or Bonkfest.
I absolutely snailed the 3rd lap. So slow, cramps threatening at every stroke. People who I passed minutes before passed me back. Charlie Beal had 2 mechanicals and still passed me back. One guy passed me, pulled off to piss (in what was clearly a metaphor for my race), and then passed me again. To quote Alec Petro's Strava description, I was "cratering".
I came through the start/finish after my worst lap ever and debated quitting rather than going out for lap 4, but I decided to keep going for some godawfulprideful reason.
I either very vaguely rebounded during lap 4 or just got used to the suffering and managed to put in a couple efforts here and there and squeezed out a 10th place zit.
I'm slightly encouraged and perplexed to discover that I wasn't the only one who was really hurting on what seemed like a fairly tame course. Maybe it was the constant twisty ups and downs that built and built and took their toll? I don't know. I overheard TJ Jacius - who got an awesome 2nd step on the podium! - saying that he was really hurting during lap 4, so maybe it was tough on everyone (except maybe Mottram, who destroyed everyone. Again.).
Weird result for me, I have to say. Smh. Not sure what happened. Onto the next.
So, must mention, teammate Gabe had a pretty awesome race - a great 12th place in front of some strong guys.
I'll let him tell the rest of the story.
Thanks for reading.