As one of my favorite places to race and ride this years Jungle Habitat race did not fail to deliver. As rain moved in late Friday night and then again Saturday night conditions on the rocks were less than favorable.. This created a race course favorable to the more technical rider.. Needless to say I spent allot of time bouncing off wet rocks and roots. 11:00 AM and the Pro/Cat 1 field heads to the START line.. Now I did my usual which was to pre ride the entire course earlier.
So I already had miles in my legs.. That coupled with some parking lot roll around and high speed spin ups I was starting the race with just over 8 miles,, WAY too much. As we wish each other good luck the bell tolls and we are off. As I more less predicted I would jump out front, followed by Jason and Kurt then Esteban.. Seamed that Jason swung around me and foiled my plan..LOL. Either way I jumped on his wheel and we were off into the singletrack start.. Twisty turns mixed with pavement covered in wet moss.. GREAT !!!! The pace was faster than I expected considering the conditions..We complete the trail " Fish " jump out onto the pavement and head down to make a sharp right back into singletrack.. And hear is where my fun begins.. Low sided and landed right on my ass..Kurt, esteban, Victor,, go flying by. I am there playing with my bars and levers.. I jump back on the bike and work hard to bridge back up.. Now I am a bit beat but I did catch up . Now we are at the back of the race course. The back side rock climb near impossible to even the most techy rider.. By the time you walk up that and jump on the bike you are just beat and now there are boulder fields ahead of you for 20 minutes. The tight knit front group stayed within eye sight for the first lap and a half easily. Going into the second lap we spread out a bit to the point where when We entered Wort Hog after Otter slide I was beat enough for Kurt and Esteban to pass me.. AND enough to where I see them walking away.. Now I am mad with myself.. I literally put on my ANGRY FACE !!!! I buckled down hard and bridged back up to esteban.. I started pushing him hard and he bobbled a bit.. Now we are on Kurt's wheel.. we are 4 minutes from the bottom of the parking lot pavement climb and I knew if I got in front of them there I could walk away. I did,, I grinding the climb out of the saddle and made up some good time.. Almost to the point where I lost site of them. Now its time to complete the last lap.. I knew I was in 3rd place now,, Jay and Victor out front somewhere.. all I had to do was race clean, stay consistant and I would be OK.. This idea last all the way to Wart Hog again and who do I see on my rear wheel ?? Esteban.. I dug deep for one last time.. I also knew I had to play it safe as I could definately go down on Wart Hog in the slop so I pick and chose the section to hit the gas hard.. Once I got on the pavement climb I locked out my fork and made a run for it.. 3rd place finish, 2nd place NJ state Champ.. .. . As a hard tail racer I always know that certain courses will favor my bike and with Jungle Habitat I know its always a roll of the dice on who shows up.. Depending on the group I have a better chance or less chance. Yesterday was my lesser chance and I pulled through a successfull race.