So this year the main goal was "Just don't die." - Check!
Next goal: Crush the XC and don't crash (maybe even do well?). - Fail! Well... partially...
Crush the climbs and pedally stuff I did. My Tallboy LTc soaked up the rough "lava rock" climb on North Rim trail and I was off the front with a substantial lead.
I turned into the first downhill (B Trail) and was smooth but pretty conservative since most of the corners and rock drops are concealed by brush or the hill's contour.
I probably lost 20-30 seconds to the fastest chasers. But by the bottom I was still all by myself and I motored on down to the creek crossing, shouldered my 28lb trail rig and tried not to fall over as I forded knee high waters. Now with wet feet it was hammer time again for a 700ft vertical gain on mostly loose fire road where it I was only one second off of last years time but on a nearly 4lb heavier bike! Sweet! For the next few minutes I hammered down Guardians Trail singletrack which is flowy and predictable. I turned down onto "Bloody Pin" trail and felt solid and smooth through the first few rocky switchbacks. The trail opened up a bit and I put the pedal to the floor but lost focus on an easy right hand sweeper and washed out the front tire... slapping the dirt pretty hard. Damn! Goal #2 Fail. I sprung up and remounted to find that my right shifter had dug into the ground and bent so far down I could barely reach it. I spent the next few corners figuring it all out and beating it into the most manageable position.
Thankfully the photographers weren't two corners higher :-).
I was having a solid run and feeling pretty good. Especially after getting through the section that sent me to the ER last year. But after hammering up that climb something went really haywire in the gears. CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! PING! And all those other horrible noises. The chain didn't break, the derailleur cable didn't break, but my chain was loose and dangling. I dismounted and inspected to find that I'd lost the bolt through the front pulley wheel on the derailleur and the whole wheel was gone as well. The was no fixing this. So I just removed the chain and continued the 2nd half of my Super D run chainless while cheering on the guys still hammering. Oh well! Maybe 3rd time's a charm and better luck next year?
Marshall had a decent Super D run but crashed in a washout as well. He said this was one of the toughest races he's ever done.