So what’s it like to race a pro mountain bike race with a national field? I found out first hand this past weekend at the annual Bump and Grind mountain bike race at Oak Mt. State Park. The front row of the start line was full of big name factory sponsored racers, followed by me and about 20 other non-factory (i.e. non-salary) pro racers in the next few rows. The race started with a brutal acceleration and mad sprint down a 40 yard straightaway towards a 180 degree left hand corner. I managed to go into the turn about midpack and could hear tires rubbing and gears clicking as everyone tried to fight for prime position going into the singletrack. 6’5” Ryan Trebon took the hole shot into the singletrack and lead the parade of bicycles through the first few winding sections of trail. The pace was fast enough to drop the back half of the pack and keep anyone from passing, but still fairly controlled. The 3 mile fire road climb emerged about 30 minutes into the 28 mile race. Once the climb started, the big names showed off their freaskish power to weight ratios and gapped me and about 5 remaining others by over 45 seconds. Fortunately for me, that was the only real extended test of pure power to weight ratio. I held my position in the top 10 for the rest of the race, including some of the more technical climbing sections. I managed to catch one of the specialized factory team racers on the last short climb of the race and finish 8th place. Overall, it was an exciting event, and one of my strongest race performances to date.