I mark the Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (ORAMM) on my calendar every year because it challenges my riding skills unlike any other race. This year's race was shortened and made easier by the removal of Star Gap and Jarrett Creek Road but that just meant it would be faster. I chose to race single speed as I usually have an issue with going too hard too early and then blowing up. I wasn't sure what to expect of the trail conditions due to this year's Nor Easter but oh well, this is Mt Biking.
Star gap is arguably the most difficult section of the normal ORAMM course because it immediately follows Kitsuma and is a difficult 1 mile single track switch back climb. Jarrett Creek Road is a fun road as long as you know it is a rolling climb for the first half and then a fast descent for the second half. I'm not sure if I was happy these 2 sections were taken out due to Jarrett Creek Road being washed out by the Nor Easter but I knew the race would be much easier.
I figured the SS would force me to take it easy on the easy sections and then I'd have more energy to go hard on the hard sections. My gearing was 32x19 which was right at the cusp of being too hard. I spun out on the early flat sections leading to the Old Highway 70 Greenway and then passing back through town on the way to Curtis Creek but I looked at those spin outs as possitives. Being "dropped" early on the flats meant I would have plenty of riders to pick off as I climbed, and I picked off a lot of riders. Many of the riders then passed me on the flat section through town but I easily caught them and many other riders once we hit Curtis Creek Road. I grinded my way up Curtis Creek Rd and passed the 3rd place single speed racer toward the top of the climb, putting me in 3rd (although I thought I was now in 2nd).
Heartbreak Ridge is an amazing descent now that I've ridden it 4 times. Letting off the brakes and flying over the bumps and roots is definitely the easiest way to get down. I was having so much fun I almost missed a switch back and did a graceful jump off my bike, landing on both feet of course. Thinking that I was in 2nd place for the SS race I didn't want to take any chances at the bottom of Heartbreak Ridge on the "rock of death" so I road the B line on the left and stayed focus.