Crested Butte is one of my favorite places to ride. The trails are rough, raw, and endless which suites my riding style perfectly. I knew going into the race there this past weekend I would do well but my previous luck at this race has been bad so I wanted redemption for myself more than anything. I wanted to have a good clean race.

Taking it as easy as I could in practice I still racked up over six hours of riding and 7000ft of climbing! The trials are so steep you have to put in a lot of work just to see the tracks. Just one lap on each stage and time to race.

The race tracks for day one were my favorite. They were the longer and more technical stages of the weekend and where I knew I could do best. I got as loose as I could safely and pedaled everywhere I could, which paid off with second place finishes on both stages. That was enough to put me in the lead with a seven-second advantage on 2nd and 26 seconds on 3rd!

I felt confident going into day two I could keep my lead; it would take a little more effort from my legs but the tracks were easier. Maybe 20 seconds into stage three on the second turn I crashed. I stayed as calm as I could, got back on my bike, and kept going. I quickly noticed my shifter got knocked forward and wasn’t reachable anymore. Oh well; carry on. Next turn I crash again. Something isn’t right. I tell myself to slow down get through the rest of the stage clean, I can’t seem to ride my bike like I had the past four days. Another crash and several close calls later I finally finish the stage.

Something isn’t right; I feel like I am completely mentally exhausted and I can’t bring myself to ride like I know I can. But I have to finish the race so I grab as much food as I can hoping some sugar will give my brain a boost and keep moving. The legs feel fine but I can’t get my brain to work right.

Managing to get myself down the fourth and final stage with no crashes and only minor mistakes was a bit of a relief,  I was sure I’d ruined my race with three crashes on stage three. I’d be happy to be in the top five at this point.

To my amazement, I managed to finish second overall, ten seconds from the win. Hard to be content with that when you know how bad your day was but that is my best BME finish to date. I’ve got to chalk this up to a learning experience and make sure it never happens again!

All in all, the weekend was amazing. Crested Butte always seems to throw some kind of curveball at me but maybe that is was keeps me stoked to come back every year and try even harder.

Words: Scott Countryman Photos: James Stokoe