That's a pretty spot on discription of that trail. It's a Dirty Little Secret. Nestled in the hills just north of Manhatten lie a sweet little gem of singletrack. It's a very sweet mix of fast, flowy, techy goodness. Within it await a couple of nice size rock gardens that take skill to manuever, and a few hills that take legs to conquer.
I somehow got away to race this UFD race. It wasn't in the plans, but late Friday night, I got the go ahead from Jamie to leave Sunday and race. I say permission because I told her I wasn't going to race this weekend. We had a friends wedding, and the last wedding we had, I was a little of a Debbie Downer due to having race the next day. She told me as long I promised to have fun and keep from being a DD, then it was no problem. It also didn't hurt she had a baby shower to attend all day Sunday.
The wedding was very interesting. The pastor seemed to be on another planet, and made the Bride and Groom say "I Do" three times. It was a very interesting ceramony. The after party was fun. I ate a moderate feast, but then preceded to eat well over a half dozen fat pieces of the most amazing wedding cake I've ever had. That along with the sixxer of Hoegaarden, and a few jello shots, had me feeling pretty good.
I woke up feeling great somehow. The drive to KC was good, but the drive from KC to Manhatten was rough. Sick to my stomach, tired, and overall a pretty crappy feeling. Luckily Nestle makes some life saving chocolate milk, and I was back to feeling good again.
We arrived a bit late, and kind of rushed getting ready, and going through our pre-ride. We hit the first rock garden and I figured the day would favor Travis more than I. He seems to ride rocks better than I do, although my new steed makes it much easier for me to hide my technical deficiences.
Upon getting ready to have our neutral roll out by a man in blue, they asked us if we wanted to do 3 or 4 laps. I didn't really care, but luckily the main census was to cut it a lap down to 3. This turned out to be a great choice.
We start to roll out, and at the blacktop corner, the cop pulls off and we're off up the pavement to the singletrack. I hit the woods in 4th spot, right behind Aaron. The first technical section had everyone stumped, and I was the last man in the train meaning I got gapped. Getting caught up behind 3 other riders was no fun. This happend twice before we popped out on the long grass section. I was pretty spent from having to bridge back up twice, but luckily the grass proved to be in my favor.
I jumped Farmer and Ryan Feagan to slot in behind Aaron again who was just behind Trav leading the pack. We cruised the grass at a comfortable pace, and put a small gap on Farmer and Ryan. Once we hit the trail we gapped them a bit more, and then came another big rocky section. It was pretty comical. Travis bobbled, then Aaron bobbled, then I bobbled. It was a cluster.
Travis continued to lead, due to some sweet blocking techniques. The pace was seemed almost lazy like. We were still holding a consistant pace, but I knew it wouldn't last all race. Anytime you have three guys riding together joking and talking during a race, you know they're not going hard enough.
Well the moment came, and Aaron attacked Trav on a hill, and put in a quick 10 second gap. This was towards the end of the first lap.
We hit the pavement with Aaron up the road. I told Travis we had to reattach and to grab my wheel. I powered up the engine and crushed it to the singletrack, and proceeded to make back our lost time. Unfortunatly Travis blew up in the process, and luckily I just barely kept from doing so myself. I had caught Aaron's wheel again.
Photo thanks to Kenneth Rodriguez. Photos of the race here...
We rode together for awhile, until the grass section. Aaron put in a pretty hard dig, and put in another 10 second gap. It gassed me pretty well, and in the process I tried to take a drink after hitting my gel flask, and dropped my bottle. I was hualing, and there was no salvaging it. I had to finish the lap waterless...
Aaron dropped his chain and I caught back up, only to loose him again not long after. My hungoverness started to rear it's ugly head again, and I was lacking the power to keep on his wheel. My back started to throw fits, and not having water was keeping me from recovering as well after the hills. Luckily I didn't loose much time.
The third and final lap was pretty uneventful. I had water again, but still no power. I put it in cruise control and finished something like 30 seconds or so behind Aaron. I would catch a glimpse of him from time to time, and I would dig, but my digs weren't very impressive. Just didn't have it all together. Travis rounded out the top 3 just a few minutes behind me.
In the end I was glad to be done, and glad I had done it. I was also glad not to have ripped a deruilleur off, and I was glad I was bashing my training Flows vs. my carbon Rovals. The rovals are fast by far, but when it comes to a training race with rocks like that, I stick to the wheels I don't mind beating up. It was a great race, a good workout, not to mention a very generous payday. The BBQ was awesome refuel, and the beer wasn't bad either. Not Weston quality though, which we somehow forgot to pack. The raffle proved to be uneventful for me, as they always do, but they gave away a ton of stuff.
The crew at Big Poppi did a damn fine job putting on their first race, and we'll all be back next year. The only part of the day that wasn't top notch was the scoring, but I'm sure they'll have it ironed out by next year.
If you near Manhatten, give the boys at the shop a call, and they'll give you the skinny on the Dirty Little Secret. If your into fun, fast, and challenging trails, then this one will suite you well.
One more week of hammering it, and then some rest before the big race. Time to dig deep.