Going into BWR the only thing I had known about the past events is that they were really hard and long. The previous month in San Diego the race was 130+ miles. I had never ridden that in one go let alone race it.
Luckily, Asheville was only 100 miles, which seemed a bunch more manageable. Though with almost 10k of vert I didn’t have high expectations. I was hoping for a top 10.
Things started and I found myself rolling over the first gravel sector climb, Walnut Cove, with the front group, though pinned. After that things seemed to mellow out. That first climb seemed to shake the nerves from everyones legs and now we were all in it for the long haul, 90 miles to go.
The middle of the race was actually quite chill. After the first separation on the first climb we just rolled a nice steady pace. A chase group caught us 15-20 miles in and now our group of less than 10 was 20+.
Everyone possessed a certain level of respect for everyone else, which is something I hadn’t seen all summer racing crits. I was use to a lot more yelling and head butting and fighting for every position.
At mile 40 pressure picked up across the top of a ridge through a jeep road, which whittled the group into 11. We rolled the next 20 miles over to the base of the first big defining climb, Pinnacle Mtn.
I found myself in a bit of hot water here and lost the front group briefly. Though I managed to latch back on I knew I had to be careful moving forward.
Our group of 11 dropped to 8 after Pinnacle and we hit the final gravel descent down Cascade Lake Rd, applying some pace to the dh trying to dislodge Ian Boswell in a big way. We didn’t want to hit the final rd climb with Ian or at least we wanted him to burn a few more matches before we got there.
In the end it didn’t help much. Ian caught us just before the bottom of Jeter Mtn Rd climb and sent a “KOM bomb” (literally got the KOM). The front group shattered and we all rode the last 8 miles with whatever was left in the tank.
For me that was not much. I went over the top with Finsty and Dylan so we cruised the final gradual 8 miles of dh into the finish before jumping into 200m of tapped grass corners. Obviously, I was looking forward to this 200m all race. I jumped Dylan at the last second then pulled the throttle cable tight. I dropped my chain, Finsty passed me, I got my chain back, and tucked into his wheel on the final corner. There was just enough space for me to eek out a bit of a sprint and finish 4th.
While I didn’t eat nearly enough waffles to be content I did drink 1 beer after the finish and was drunk off my ass for 30min. I sobered up with some BBQ and waited to mount the wide angle podium. As I waited I smooshed with the other finishers around me. Everyone had a light and cheery vibe emanating from them even though we were all shattered on the inside. We all shared a bit of soul crushing defeat and consequently possessed large amount of togetherness and respect for one another, which is why this wont be my last BWR.