"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
3rd PLACE OVERALL
(R-L) Me, Cox, Christian, & Derrick
"The underdog often starts the fight, and occasionally the upperdog deserves to win." Edgar Watson Howe
Newport, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The Pinnacle Challenge VI was not only the biggest aR showing of 2010, it may have been the most successful and one of the most competitive. Thirty-three aR teammates travelled to the Lake Sunapee area of NH for this very unique double duathlon. Four teammates race four disciplines including road running, mountain biking, road biking, and trail running. This year would be our biggest turnout as we fielded eight teams of four plus one duo team. Two of those teams, aR-WOLFE and aR-HAMEL, were poised to take a serious run at a podium finish. But perhaps more importantly, they would take dead aim at each other with team bragging rights on the line. Geoff's big toe injury resulted in his unfortunate late scratch. With less than a week to race day Captain Wolfe was suddenly without his very strong trail runner. Knowing that Steve Wolfe would rather have acid-tinged white hot ice picks jabbed in his eyes than lose to me, I figured he find someone to replace Cunningham. Turns out that he not only found someone to replace Geoff...he somehow managed to talk one of the most talented road/trail/ mountain/snowshoe racers in the entire northeast to replace him. None other than Jim Johnson (aka DoubleJ). Almost by default if you've got a nickname, you're bad ass. And as badasses go, he one's the baddest. It wasn't long after aR-HAMEL (Derrick Hamel, myself, Christian Muentener, Tim Cox) had gathered that aR-WOLFE's (Jim Johnson, Austin Stonebraker, Ted Hall, Steve Wolfe) devious plan became apparent. At the last minute they announced to us that they would be switching runners, Jim would run the road and Wolfe would run the trail. Perhaps they were banking on J2 putting enough of a gap on Derrick at the beginning of the event that neither I nor Christian could close thus leaving Wolfe with a leisurely "victory lap" for the aR team title? Either way, each of us knew exactly what was in front of us...an epic battle mano e mano. A very competitive and very fast road runner field took off very quickly when the event got underway. Then the waiting game began. Less than 25 minutes later the first runners appeared off in the distance as they raced toward us. As the road runners appeared everyone frantically squinted to figure out who's runner was in the lead?! When they arrived DoubleJ had run a killer race and was in 2nd place overall. After a hand tag Austin was on his bike and out of the transition area without haste. Less than 90 seconds later Derrick, who had run an 8k PR, was in the TA. Once tagged I hopped on my GIANT Trance3 and away I went trying to stay within the 1.5 minute lead Austin had been given. I'm fairly familiar with the mountain bike course, having raced here 3 times before. The first half of the 5.4 mile course climbs and the second half descends. Always confident in my climbing I knew that if I had any chance of closing on Austin, who's supremely fit and a very good mountain biker, it would have to be on the climb. Within 10 minutes I saw him in front of me for the first time. As we climbed I felt him slowly come back to me and before long I was right on his back tire. As we rode the tight twisty singletrack he briefly dabbed I darted around him. Knowing how strong a rider he is I knew I was going to need the ride of my life to maintain the advantage. By the time we reached the high point of the course I peeked quickly but didn't notice him directly behind. As strong of a climber as I am, I'm probably equally as weak on the descents. I guess I just can't justify the risk of breaking a collarbone or tweaking a knee if I were to Graham. Figuring Austin was back there somewhere, and probably somewhere close, I rode the last downhill singletrack like I had stolen it. This newly re-designed section of course was a combination pump track and carnival ride. Just awesome. I was actually disappointed when I finally appeared behind the school by the transition area where Christian was waiting. I entered the TA in 37:20 and tagged Christian almost at the same time as Austin tagged Ted. Without knowing, Austin had hammered the last 200 meters of course and nearly entered the TA at the same time as I did. Ted and Christian left the transition area together for the 3rd leg of the race, the 13 mile road bike. Ted Hall is one of the best all-around aR cyclists. He won the King of the Glen in 2009 and nearly took the title again in 2010. Apparently, Christian is no slouch either because after 35 minutes of riding it was Christian who entered the TA first, with Ted in hot pursuit. In fact, these cyclists had ridden to a near tie. By virtue of Ted and Wolfe transitioning a little quicker it was Wolfe who left the TA ahead of Tim by about 2-5 seconds. And that gap would hold...for about the first 200 meters or until as Tim would tell it, "Steve got into the woods.". Tim was no match for Steve. At that point the only thing in question was whether or not aR-HAMEL would podium. Tim was third out of the woods in a blazing 23:05 and our 2:05:50 team finish was good enough for 3rd place overall. A little over 2:00 later Steve crossed the finish line helping his team to a 4th place finish. As we've had here at this event and others, it was great aR vs. aR racing from start to finish. When the results were finally posted I had a chance to see how my split compared to the rest of the field. Admittedly, mountain biking is my "crosstraining" sport. While I love it, I probably spend way too little time on my bike to be competitive but there are only so many hours in the day. My 37:20 split was 15th overall out of 57 total riders (including solo's which perhaps is an unfair comparison). Ultimately my goal here would be a Top 10 overall mountain bike split. Looking at the results I'm going to need to find another 2:00. Guess I need to put in another 1 or 2 rides a week in 2011. All in all, another fantastic day of great friends, great weather, and great racing! The Pinnacle really is one of my favorite events of the year. PJ Lovely and his crew of teammates and volunteers do a fantastic job. For an event with so much diversity their organization is top notch. It's one of the first races scheduled on the aR calendar every year. And it will be again in 2011.
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James