With a good night's sleep and a solid breakfast under my belt I headed over to the start of the Stoopid 50 in Boalsburg PA. As I was going over the bike and spinning around a bit the impending weather was starting to show it's self with sprinkling showers that had everyone's mind on the thunderstorms that were to hit mid day. The start rolled out at a decent but controlled pace and we headed up the 3.5 mile road climb to hit the amazing Tussey's ridge.
The day prior I was chatting with Mike Tabasko and we were in agreement that last years race went off WAAAAAY too slow and this year if things looked the same then we need to fire it up and make some legs hurt to get a better selection for the singletrack. We kept on the road and about 1/2 mile from the top it switches to gravel and I see Mike drive to the front and string out the group...perfect! I was boxed in but this gave me the opportunity to get around the single file line and fire up the left side to 7th position or so and have a nice smooth entry into the singletrack. Our plan worked VERY well. So we were off with no traffic into the techy trail that most rave about in the S50.
As I kept it steady I was just enjoying the magical thing that is the Cannondale Scalpel. Holy crap is this new bike nice. This was ride #5 on the bike, and I wasn't sure how it would react at race pace in some of these finicky situations. It was great and kept me right where I was hoping to be. So continuing on this ride we rode it FAST. Picking great lines made it so much fun and confidence inspiring. Knowing I was in a good place I was enjoying the trail, and noticed a few guys on the side of the trail that were definitely helping my placing. Attrition is definitely a big part of a race like this. Smooth and steady is the mantra.
Off of Tussey's I got on Tabasko's wheel and hung there for the next 25 miles it seemed. We hit the climbs and he got a little gap...then in the singletrack I got right back to his wheel. Rinse and repeat into the final aid station. I grabbed a bottle and hit the next climb that NEVER ends. I wasn't feeling the best so I rode as hard as I could turning myself inside out over and over. I got towards the top and a rider came up from behind and pedaled by hard. There was no way I could latch on. At that point I knew I was in 5th and would be very happy if I could just put whatever left I had down and maintain my position. I knew there were a lot of hungry riders behind me.
I hit the last gravel road climb and hit it hard. I knew it was almost over so I pushed as hard as I could and cramped myself pretty badly but I was moving quickly. I made the left off of the road to the final gnarly descent happy and ready to get this over with. It is NASTY. Your line and confidence were crucial. I was doing well on this tight ribbon of rock until I clipped a tree with my bar and caught some rocks in a bad way. I flung off the side of the trail down the low side and did all I could to protect myself. I went through a tree stump and ended up face down, head down, attached to the bike I was trying so hard to protect, still clipped in and both legs cramping HARD. Dinky Dinky Do Do Dee Do...relax...relax...there's no one coming...get up...relax... I peg legged it back up to the trail with my bike and got on. Here we go. I lit up the rest of the descent and over the 3 bridges and into the finish. No one passed and I maintained.
I finished 5th overall in 4:12 and had a nice scare on the approach to the finish. Those thunderstorms that we were afraid of never materialized and it made for an amazing race day. $100 bucks richer and a nice podium shot later it was back on the road home to jersey. It was a great day and what a ride. I'm convinced the Scalpel will really help my game and it sure worked well on the rocks of State College yesterday.