The Utah National hare & Hound was this past weekend and for the last few years has been one of the tougher races on the schedule. It’s a different kind of tough though. There is nothing that is extremely technical or hard to ride that makes it tough but the course is relentless. It starts in the sand dunes and continues across open roads that give you no break because there are ditches and holes everywhere. Then it makes it way up in to the trees and at times can be extremely rocky. Then when it gets close to the pits the whoops get enormous. The course never gives your body a break! It is also one of the most fun races we have all year long. I am excited we get to go back for a Hare Scrambles later on in the year. Only other bummer for us SoCal people is that the drive is pretty long. We made our way to the race Friday morning after driving a while Thursday night. On Friday I got to do a good amount of riding and make sure the bike was ready to go. After that my beautiful wife made me dinner and we got a good night’s rest in our new trailer!
Saturday morning in Utah is a little different than most races. The race doesn’t start until 12pm! It is a long morning but it means nothing is a rush. I still woke up fairly early and put my bike on the line just to hold the spot I wanted. The rest of the morning was spent getting ready and watching the kid’s races. When it was finally our time to go I headed to the start. On the line I was focused and ready to go. The banner went up and it felt like it was up a long time. Right before it dropped I heard some bikes fire up and I looked to my right and saw people taking off so I started to fire my bike as well. At that time the banner dropped. Either these people had some insider information or got extremely lucky. Either way I had a great jump and hit the sand dunes in 2nd behind my teammate Gary. I decided not to follow him and go right down the middle which chose to be a bad choice. I lost some spots and was in a battle for 3rd overall. By the end of the shuffle I had fallen to 5th as I took it a little too cautious through the virgin Utah terrain. It was now really dusty and I could see the leaders getting away. I tried everything I could do and almost crashed a few times pushing it in the dust. There was no way I was getting around anyone. I watched my teammate Gary get by Skyler when he went the wrong way but he turned back right in front of me and dusted me out for another 10 miles. Finally we hit a rocky bush covered wash and I was able to make the pass for 4th and move up right behind Gary who was in 3rd. I tried to stay right on his tire but the dust was too bad. About 3 miles from the pits I was in Gary’s dust trying to stay close and I clipped something in a wash that put me on the ground. It threw me to the ground quick fast and with a lot of force. I haven’t hit the ground that hard in a long time. At first thought I was done racing for the day. I was rolling around the desert trying to catch my breath. I could tell nothing was broken but couldn’t really breathe. About that time Axel came up on me and I heard him coming but couldn’t stand up to warn him of my downed bike. Luckily he just missed it and didn’t destroy two Purvines bikes at once! He quickly stopped and I didn’t want him to lose any time so I gave him thumbs up and told him to go. I knew I would be fine in a little bit. I lay there for a little longer and then sat up and gathered myself, picked up my bike and continued on. I still pretty much had it in my mind that I was done for the day. I was hurting and really frustrated that I hit the ground while in a good position to battle for a podium. After I got going I realized I was fine, just dizzy and couldn’t take deep breaths but riding wasn’t making it any worse. I cruised it into the pits got some fuel and some encouragement from my wife. We also put my grip back on to the bar that was ripped In half. I set out on loop two and I was determined to catch back up to where I was. I put on a charge and tried to reel my teammates in. The problem was my head wasn’t completely right and I couldn’t breathe very well. I started missing my marks and just making little mistakes all over the place. The whole loop I basically just struggled. I came into the pits and knew I had lost more time but was happy to still be in 5th. Collin replaced my messed up grip with a new bolt on AME grip and I got fresh goggles and set out. About that time Justin Morgan passed me as I was pulling out of the pits. I got by him while he was pitting but knew he would be close. I was starting to feel better so I just told myself to calm down and ride smart. I started to feel a lot better and was able to open the gap on Justin back up. I never again was able to make it up to my teammates or even see their dust trail. The weather was also being extremely weird. It would be pouring rain and super windy in spots and then get really windy as well. I ended up just cruising home for a 5th place finish. Not where I was hoping to be but another good solid result and the Purvines team went 3rd, 4th and 5th for the day.
The race course was probably one of the best Utah races I have ever done. I had a lot of fun and wished I wasn’t hurting so bad to enjoy more of the course. The markings were extremely well and it had a mixture of every terrain you could ask for. Also in between loops my wife packed up the trailer, got the dogs out of the weather and took care of our nephew that we brought to the race. She still managed to hand me goggles and water both pits and cheer me on. If that’s not a wife goal then I don’t know what is! I am proud of her in every aspect of our life as she takes care of me no matter what and always makes sure I have everything I need. I know I am a few small mistakes from running where I want and need to be and with each race I feel like I am gaining speed on the bike!