Holy crap! It's two days later and my legs are still sore from the state championship smackdown at Solitude. Rhonda's race was scheduled to start at 8:30 so we arrived at the butt crack of dawn to get her registered and warmed up while I sat in the car and drank two mugs of coffee trying to stay warm. Rhonda rode well and grabbed another 6th place finish. She would be an absolute force out there if she actually trained. It was pretty warm by the time my race started but I'm OK riding in the heat so I wasn't too worried. I think everybody realized it was going to be a long day so the pace was pretty mellow up the road on the start. Matt and Jared picked it up as soon as the singletrack started with Brian and Jake hanging on behind them. I picked up my pace once I hit the Honeycomb climb but by this time the other classes started mixing in and I lost sight of the leaders. I knew I had no shot at catching Matt and Jared but I've beaten Brian and Jake every time we've raced so I pushed it pretty hard on the first climb trying to catch back on to them. I caught up to Jake as we hit the service road and saw Brian up ahead so I pushed it a bit more to catch Brian and towed Jake up to him. Hit the DH on Brain's wheel with Jake right behind and got around Brian on the short climb in the middle of the DH. Tried to open a gap on him but he was having none of that and he got around me near the bottom. We hit the 2nd lap climb all together. Jake tried to make a move in a real bad spot on the first steep pitch in Honeycomb and blew up never to be seen again. I tailed Brian all the way up the climb dreading the super steep section of road near the top. By this time my energy level was getting low and I hadn't been drinking enough. When the last steep pitch came I caved and came off my bike. Brian rode away. I thought I could catch back on but I was blown and the DH was ugly. I was all over the trail, bouncing off rocks, riding in the bushes and all over the brakes. Headed out for my third lap in survival mode. I drank a bunch of water at the base of the climb and was recovered enough to actually ride near race pace by the Bess climb. Drank a bunch more water on the service road and had a strong DH into the finish. I ended up 4th which was my best ICUP finish ever but it comes with an asteric since most of the really fast people moved up.
Solitude was also the world debut of my new (to me) full suspension 29er. I'm happy with my Salsa hard tail 29er 90% of the time but the aggressive XC geometry and scandium/carbon frame is not meant for abusive rides down south. My Blur works OK down there but it's always been way to small for me. Enter the Asylum OCD. Asylum cycles licenced the Racer X design from Titus, perfected it for the 29" wheel and had Titus manufacture it for them as the OCD. When sales started taking off for the bike Titus bought the design back and began selling it as the Racer X 29er. The only problem for me was when Titus bought out Asylum they quit building the XXL 25" frame which is the one that fits me perfectly so I've been scouring the net for awhile looking for this bike. I finally found one listed improperly on Ebay and won the auction at a rock bottom price. Sold the Blur frame for the same amount of money I paid for it a few years ago and built up the Asylum. I've been riding it for a couple weeks and really like it. The more I thought about how rough and long the Solitude race was going to be the more I though full suspension was going to be the right choice. I swapped out a few parts the night before and brought the Asylum on race day. I think it was the right call especially when I was getting tired and sloppy on the DH the combo of the rear suspension and 29" wheels kept me from flying into the woods.