The 8th annual Darkhorse 40 was by far one of the best mountain bike races that I have ever done. It was my second time racing the Darkhorse 40…last year was a DNF. Held at the Stewart State Forest in Montgomery, NY , the race course consists of two 20 mile laps of some on the best single-track the region has to offer. Fast and flowing sing-track.
This year saw a consolidation of classes. Elite/Cat 1, Cat 2, Singlespeed and Team. No age groups, no Cat 3, all open classes. What does this mean for the racer? Bigger fields. Way bigger. My Cat 2 field was 143 racers. Last year with the age groups I had 56. Overall the race is capped at 400 racers.
At staging for the start, I tried to get myself up as close to the front as I could, but I ended up around mid-pack at the start. The start of the race was on a 3/4 mile paved and dirt road, so it allowed me to get past quite a few riders before we hit the race course. The course was dry, dusty and fast. I felt great and the bike was handling great. The only problem was that I apparently got a little lazy in tuning and setting up my bike. I never checked the brake pads. I didn’t realize that I was in need of replacing the rear disc pads. About three miles into the race one pad of my rear brake was metal an metal, just like your car when your brakes wear out. Front brake was good, back brake at least slowed. It was noisy, but it worked out. I just wasn’t sure what kind of damage I might be doing to the rotor. At about the 20 mile mark I found out. I got a rear flat, so as long as I was stopped, I inspected the rotor. Actually, it wasn’t bad at all. Obvious grinding, but not bad. After, removing a thorn and replacing the tube, I was back on the course trying to catch as many of the dozens and dozens of riders that went passed.
I rode as hard and fast as I could. In fact, I think that the majority of my second 20 mile lap might of been faster than the first. I caught as many as I could but at this point I had no idea how far back I was. Then I got to the last 6 miles or so. I didn’t hit the wall, but I was tired. I worked hard to catch up after the flat and I just got tired. The last 6 miles were tough. My final result was 89. Not what I wanted or even thought where I would be. I rode very well and overall I felt pretty good but mechanicals happen. You just have to go with it and do the best you can.