After missing out on the Missoula Pro XCT race this weekend, I decided to race the Padden Pedal, a Northwest classic. Mark Peterson of the WHIMPS always puts on a top notch event and is a super active leader in the mtb community as well.
I knew my form was good, since I was aiming to peak for my Sun Valley-Missoula double header. Other than some soreness from my crash on wednesday, I felt great today. I took the 100 dollar holeshot for the first time ever and lead halfway up the climb until Russell Stevenson came flying around me. I couldn't match the acceleration, but tried to minimize the damage. Patrick Means also came around me and was riding super strong up the climb. Over the top Russ had about a ten second gap ahead of Patrick and me. I lead ahead of Patrick on the descent and started bringing Russ back(definately helps to live in Bham and know the trails). As I closed in on Russ, he clipped a pedal and went down. Turns out he twisted his chain a little in the wreck, causing some shifting issues.
Gotta love the northwest forest! Credit: Jeff McConaughy
Now with some space behind me, I settled into a rhythm. Canadian Ricky Federau caught me on the third lap and put in some really big digs on the climb. I sucked down a clif shot and barely hung on. Fourth lap and I countered his efforts and pulled away. Fifth and sixth laps I was solo, but Ricky and Russ were close enough to make the suffering continue. Ricky came within 30 seconds on the last lap, but I had enough of a gap to hold on for the win.
Padden is notoriously challenging.
I should give props to Ricky for racing so strong, especially considering he had raced the Gearjammer in Squamish the day before! I'm sure it would have been a great 3-way battle, had Russ not had a mechanical. The Noble F4's were out in force today as well. It really is the perfect bike for that course. Lots of flowy, punchy sections with some technical climbing and descending too. So much fun!