The Curse of Dark Hollow is hands down my favorite course to race on ever since my first time leaving from the Big Flat trailhead as a junior. Unfortunately my past few racing experiences at Michaux have been damaged by bad luck with multiple flat tires, busted derailleurs, broken chains, and so on. From the start the race was going really well as I led going into the singletrack without putting in any efforts that would leave me suffering later on in the race. About a mile into the trail I lost my lead after I had a slight bobble in a rock garden and then soon after Michaux would strike again, cutting the sidewall of my rear tire. Lucky for me I had everything I needed in what some may call an oversized saddle bag. After changing the flat and booting the tire with a dollar bill I was back on the trail and about 8 min down from the leaders. Continuing on one of my favorite trails I pushed the pace hard and with a little bit of local trail knowledge made it through the first long section of technical singletrack without putting a foot down. At this point I had 30 more miles of trail ahead of me and was now 6 min down. I had been more content chasing from the back than having the pressure of being caught up front which helped me to keep things smooth throughout the rest of the race. After making it to the halfway point and the first water station I moved up to 5th and took another minute and a half out of the leaders. I slowed my pace down just a touch to make sure that I would have enough gas in the tank for the longest singletrack climb which would come within the next 5 or 6 miles which had the potenti
al to make or break each person’s race. On my way to the final climb I managed to pass Rob Spreng before descending “Canada Hollow” and soon had a major adrenaline rush after almost running over a rattlesnake making its way off the trail as I passed by which made the rest of the descent a blur. On my way up “Scientology” I knew I had to push it hard if I wanted to stand a chance at taking the win. About a half mile into the climb I caught and passed Travis Saeler, who was suffering from a major effort shortly after my flat which had him leading a good portion of the race early on. Catching Travis gave me some extra motivation to keep pushing on and within the next 2 miles I had caught up to Mike Keefer and teammate Chris Beck at the front just before reaching the final water stop at mile 30. Once at the top of the mountain Chris and I launched an attack on Mike before hitting the next section of trail which gained us an advantage before going into the finish. I was still feeling fresh so I pushed it hard, continued to ride smooth, and would soon find myself alone off the front. Making my way through the final sections of short powerline climbs and more, rocky singletrack the days efforts began to take their toll as I began cramping in my quads and hamstrings simultaneously. Damn, that hurt, but I could not ruin my days efforts due to a little cramping so I ignored them the best I could and they finally subsided with about a mile to go. From that point on there was still no one to be seen and I knew I had the win. Coming across the line I was pretty crooked turning into the course tape that was supposed to be directing me through the finish chute, and then had one last massive cramp as I dismounted after a long 40 miles at Michaux. It was a great day on the bike and has me looking forward to a mix of more technical cross country races and a few endurance races to finish off the season.