Dustin White, Acworth GA, Beast Mode!
Hello queens and kings! First off, if you are reading this and participated in the Augusta Mountain Bike World Championships, thank you! It was another great year and it is always a blast having locals come out and shred probably my favorite trail in the CSRA!
Moving on, this past weekend was the penultimate weekend for the Georgia and Southeastern Series’. Saturday had a short track cross country event for Georgia bonus points and Sunday was a Georgia points XC race that also counted as a Southeastern make up. For anyone who is not familiar, a “short track” race is a condensed version of a normal cross country race. They usually are on courses that have laps ranging from 3-6 minutes in duration and the total event usually lasts ~ 25 minutes.
I headed to Acworth on Saturday afternoon to try out both courses with my buddy Chris. We first headed out to roll through the short track course. After a long gravel road starting section, we snaked up some cornering double track and into some exceptionally tight single track! This section was so tight and twisty really unlike anything I have seen before. What was interesting is as we increased speeds, new lines became clear because of how you carried momentum. Later in the day’s race, it became clear everyone started to have these same discoveries! After the single track we opened back up to the gravel road to the start finish, pull a 180 by the timing trailer and head out for another lap!
The start of that race combined all sport and expert class participants. Looking at the results that was somewhere around 30 people. 30 may be a moderate number, but there was no shortage of big hitters this weekend! As the whistle blew, I got off the line first with my best start of the year. I set the pace down the first gravel road and before the first true turn had 2 folks overtake me (Shawn and Dustin G). Both of these guys are great in tight single track so I was certainly pleased with my position. We came out of the woods on lap 1 and seemed to shrink down our group a little but probably had 10-12 people in a pack. Starting lap 2 I pushed the pace on the gravel once more to keep a little gap to some chasers. Entering the woods I was once again passed by 2 folks including Dustin G. so I sat on for the ride. As we came out of the single track for lap 2 I think we had a gap of 6-7 folks but the pace dropped heavily on the gravel road. Starting lap 3 off, my buddy Chris moved ahead to the lead upping the pace to keep things tough. At this very moment, queue in Jamie for a scorching attack before the double track! He and Penny came around like a missile on a mission and people took note to latch on. I entered the double track about 4th this time and 1 bend before the single track I attacked up a slight rise to enter the single track 1st. Behind there seemed to be a jam up of folks and I got a slight gap so from then on, I was all in!
Routing through the tight single track on lap 3 I was a dancing, magical unicorn hitting every line perfectly! I came through to the gravel road to head to the start finish and had increased my lead by to about 10 seconds. As I headed out for the final lap, people were cheering and I was in the hurt locker, but my trusty steed Stacy wanted this win so I gave her the gift she wanted! I powered through the gravel, winded through the single track, and came to the finish solo with roughly a 15 second advantage. What a fun race!
On Sunday’s course, the fun seemed to fade into misery! That place was rooty, rough, hot, and had very limited flow. We had 4 laps of the 7 mile course that included the short track course, 1 double track section and then a long stretch through single track. On Lap 1, Dustin G. set our group’s pace marvelously and I was on his wheel in second. As we began our second lap, I was behind a few folks and unfortunately my main rival…always known as “The Harrison”…. had a soft, leaking rear wheel. He pulled off and a few others moved around and before I knew it, I was in the lead spot heading to the short track course section. The only person on my wheel was Tallahassee man, Justin McMurrer. Justin has been in attendance at all of our races and every weekend keeps getting better and better, but one thing never has changed…he is a super nice guy! This was exciting to have him in the heat of Sunday’s race. I continued setting the pace for all of lap 2 and we opened up a nice gap. Justin pulled through on lap 3 and set a blistering pace!!!! This is when things started to suck for me personally. I rode Justin’s wheel but realized I was getting slammed around on the hardtail. I love Stacy very much, but dang she is not suited to deep whoops and root nests! Poor girl!
As we came to the start finish to begin our 4th and final lap, I took back the pace setting and decided to throttle down a little. Justin stuck with me the whole lap and we were both getting very tired it seemed. I think I was mostly hanging together trying not to make mistakes opposed to crushing. In the final minutes we came out of single track onto the double track stretch that was in the short track race. We were probably 1km from the finish and I tried to attack Justin off my wheel….that did not work…. We came up to the final gravel turn and I tried to attack to see if Justin would brake or maybe dab….that did not work. Not knowing what other card to play I began sprinting…..needless to say, that did not work either. In the final 50 meters or so, Justin came off my wheel in a slow motion slingshot sprint. We were both full body cramping to the finish, but Justin’s momentum and motivation was too much for my Unicorn Magic to match.
I finished 2nd on that day, but learned plenty about tactical opportunities and how deep I can push myself. Most importantly though, I got to watch the excitement of Justin winning! He was stoked! And his girlfriend who has attended every race weekend with their dogs for camping excitement was equally as pumped! If that isn’t as equally as neat as the racing and potentially winning, I don’t think this sport would be half as fun! The beauty of it is that on any given day, anyone’s stars can align into having a perfect race! With 2 big weekends left on the calendar…. I am hoping for 4 stars and stripes aligning races….pun intended =)
Until next time, dream big…ride hard!
|Click here for the Ride with Dustin page complete with race schedule and post-race reports.|