Billy Demong finished fifth in his third career mountain-bike race on Sunday, the Wilmington/Whiteface 100 near his hometown of Vermontville, N.Y.
Demong completed the 69-mile course in 4:42:32.67, nearly 17 minutes behind fourth-place finisher Phillip Wong of Gloucester, Mass. Justin Lindine of North Salem, Mass., won the race in 4:19:15.97 to qualify for the Leadville 100.
It was Demong’s first mountain bike race of the year, and after crossing over from road racing, he said it wasn’t easy. He told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise parts of the course were so steep that he called one section “crushed hopes and dreams.” He also ran out of water thinking the race would be shorter — since it was 57 miles last year — and purposely skipped breakfast, according to the Press-Republican.
“It was pretty apparent about 10 miles in I wasn’t going to catch the top guys,” Demong told the Enterprise. “Seeing how the field stacked up after the first 10 miles, fifth was beautiful.”
Spending most of the offseason with his wife and toddler in Park City, Utah, Demong explained he put family first and road biking mostly behind him.
“This type of racing isn’t nearly as dangerous,” he said. “In road racing, you could get hit by a car or really get hurt in a 50-bike pile up. I have a kid now, so I don’t see that for me anymore.”
After Sunday’s race, Demong wasn’t sure whether he’d compete in Colorado’s Leadville 100 on Aug. 11. Last year, he placed 34th in the event, and Lindine will be back in hopes of improving his 28th-place performance.