Test of Endurance Mudslinger Events OBRA mountain bike race

Getting my Hat Trick on! OregonVelo

In lieu of making a 20 hour roundtrip to Sun Valley, Idaho, for Marathon MTB Nationals, I traveled 45 minutes southwest to Blodgett and raced the Test of Endurance 50. Not only was there the dilemma whether to take another stab at a national title, but also which TOE event to race.

I have won the Oregon’s ‘Test” several times over the years both in 50 mile format and also last year as a 100 mile event. This time around my old buddy Mike Ripley (Mudslinger Events) changed the 100 miler to a 100k race that journeyed to the top of Mary’s Peak, the highest point in Oregon’s coastal mountains. I have ridden up the Peak many times over the years but the opportunity to race there was enticing indeed!

In the end, my decisions all came down to good ole simoleons as there would be no prizes and massive expenditures in Idaho and only the TOE 50 race would offer cash prizes this year. With our move to Washington looming on the horizon next month it only made sense to save cash and leave open the opportunity to bring home a little more to offset my expenses.

Luckily, race day started later in the morning and my old engine wasn’t misfiring too much as we started the familiar climb. Before long, my friend and TransAlp 2006 partner Ben Thompson set a pace that seemingly only he could manage. I led the chase and soon was riding solo in second place. After a few downhill trails, I began to notice a knocking sound emanating from the front of my steed. Finally, I stopped and discovered that the through axle was loose. I dug out a tool, tightened it up and was on my way again.

At the end of the first of two laps, Ben was minutes ahead and while I had comfortably consolidated my position I started to have doubts as to whether or not I would see the him again. I was riding pretty well and racing for the first time with a power meter. The numbers looked great so while I had confidence I was going well, I was ready to tip my hat to the stronger man!

Near the midpoint of the lap there was a rough, steep climb through the aid station and surprisingly, the volunteers informed me that I was closing in on the lead. In disbelief, just seconds later I saw Ben just ahead. With a few hard stomps of the pedals I closed the gap and we rode the next descent together. As the trail became more technical I took the lead and opened a small gap.

Then we started the steepest climb of the day and as I powered ahead, a yellow jacket made its way underneath my helmet and commenced stinging me in the temple. I thrashed around with the helmet whilst climbing the near 20% grade but finally had to stop and sort things out.

Ben caught up again but I was able to pedal away and continue to gain time until the finish. At the end of the day, things went about as well as I could have imagined: sure there was the loose front wheel and the bee in my bonnet but those were just a bumps in the road to another TOE victory!

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