Wow, what an adventure!
We definitely started the trip on an interesting note. After being up late on Wednesday night packing, we got up before 6am to head to work, pretty standard day at work, left for SD Airport at 4:30pm. Boarded our first flight around 9pm and arrived in Albany at about 9am very sleep deprived.
Enterprise rental car service is the best on the planet and even though they didn't have a big SUV at the airport the guy came and picked us up to bring us to a different store!
I then drove 2+ hrs. to Mt. Snow, checked into our bed and breakfast, assembled the bikes, and then suited up to pre-ride the course. My rear brake had picked up a nasty air bubble so after stealing some brake fluid from the Gary Fisher team I was able to get the Specialized guys to help me bleed it. Awesome to have those guys help!!!!!!!!!!
Even though I wanted to do a second lap on the course to dial in lines on the tricky mud covered, rocky, rooty descent... Allison was spent and we hosed off and headed to dinner.
Saturday we were up early and off to the races. The course was fun but unforgiving. My strategy for the race was to go easy the first lap, learn the course, then crank it up and hope to finish strong. The first part worked out fine. I let a gap go on the first lap and was probably somewhere around 6th behind a lead group. On the second lap I turned up the pace and started making passes. I caught the lead group on the descent and was stoked! Unfortunately right near the bottom of the descent a slippery root took me off line and my front tire let go of the rim ending my day.
First DNF ever. It feels like crap to fly 3k miles and not finish!
I knew that Allison might need my wheel as a spare so I had to get it fixed up. The Gary Fisher guys once again came through (notice a trend?) with some Stans, a rag, and an air compressor. I had already tried to locate a CO2 to no avail and the GF crew hooked me up with one of those for Allison's race!!! Honestly, those guys are the best!
Allison's race wasn't great as she lost time learning the lines the first few laps. She finished 14th but should have placed higher in my opinion.
Sunday we took advantage of the breakfast at the Inn and it was great! After breakfast I jumped on my Sworks HT and chased Allison around a 45 mile loop of country roads in Vermont, she had a decisive advantage being on a demo Ruby from the Specialized truck! Just as we finished up our ride it started raining, AWESOME timing, we jumped in the Tahoe and drove south through Massachussets before turning west for New York. We arrived at my aunt's house just before dinner.
Monday we got up early and jumped on a train to NYC. What a day that was! We arrived at Grand Central Station, walked to Central Park, then got a slice of pizza. After eating we jumped on the subway to Bowling Green, checked out the Statue of Liberty, then started walking back towards Uptown. We walked past the NYSE building and down Wall Street before boarding a subway east, walked to Pier 17 and checked out the Brooklyn Bridge before jumping on another subway to Times Square. Once above ground there we walked north, saw Broadway and all the way back to Central Park. We checked out a really cool bike store that had some pimp Scott bikes. By now we were getting hungry for dinner so we jumped another subway train and went back to Pier 17 for dinner at UNO pizzeria with a view of a great sunset through the masts of the "tall ships". We were both wiped out on the train ride back Upstate!!!!
Tuesday we headed to Windham to do some course recon. On the way there we detoured enough for me to show Allison my childhood stomping grounds. The course was fun and muddy, more forgiving than Mt. Snow and all the hard work for next year's World Cup was obvious! Allison took a lot of pictures of me!
On the way home we stopped and bought provisions for dinner and I cooked up some steaks, veggies, chicken, and corn. Awesome meal!
Wednesday we hit up a short road ride (on MTBs) around Copake Lake and checked out some country roads nearby. After our ride we made a short trip to Hudson and my cousin's house. I had never met her two kids and we had a good time playing in the back yard. We ate leftovers for dinner and took a walk by the lake around sunset.
Thursday we spent the morning with my Grandma, we took her to a great little coffee shop in Hudson called The Muddy Cup. It was nice to spend some quality time with her! After bringing her back home we headed over to Windham to check into Kelly Acres. At first we were a bit hesitant with our accomodations but we quickly found ourselves feeling right at home!!! After settling in we registered at the venue and picked up provisions for dinner, I grilled up pork chops and veggies while Allison made some rice.
Friday we got up and Nancy cooked us a great hearty breakfast, it took us a while to digest and then we headed over to preview the course again. Unfortunately the new tire I had installed on Allison's bike had a defective sidewall. I gave her my wheelset and sent her out on course before switching my bike to the backup wheelset. Due to the delay I only got one lap on course before they closed it for the lower category racers. After debating our next move I decided to call it a day and we drove to Cairo for more dinner provisions. Luckily "The Silent One" Sam J hooked us up with a "lightly used" tire to replace the one that was bad. I spent the afternoon making sure the bikes were as close to perfection as they could be before once again throwing steaks and veggies on the grill for dinner. The rider's meeting was a bit frustrating as I found that I only got to race 4 laps while the Elite Women were doing 5, and the Men's race was doing 6. Just a note, the paying customers at these races (CAT1 and lower) should not be short changed. Give them their money's worth!!!!
Saturday we were once again up with the sun for my early race start. There was a thick fog/mist that condensed and soaked my warm-ups. I don't think the fog was a factor, but there was a bit of confusion as to where we were starting (Hodgie told me we were staring where the Pros were, Tom said we were starting under the banner). After figuring out the start confusion I lined up and grabbed a spot on the front row. Knowing that passing was going to be an issue early on I sprinted for the trees and was 5th or 6th onto the single track. I quickly found myself in a great battle for second with another rider. First place had checked out and I knew he would either blow up and come back or go on to the win. The other rider was mashing huge gears on the steep climbs but I was closing on him every time spinning a high cadence. It was strange having the climbs be my strong suit in an XC race!!! Unfortunately he was pulling gaps on the descent due to my reluctance to really let it fly. I didn't want to DNF again! I am pretty sure it was the last lap when I saw him pull off with a mechanical, I was bummed that the battle was over but stoked to know I was in a podium position! Now I was running scared to hold position! I took the descent a tad more conservative, knowing that if someone caught me I have a good sprint. On the final loop through the parking lot I saw third place charging hard but knew I had it in the bag! Best finish of the year!!!
Allison's race was awesome! I am her biggest fan!
To celebrate we went to dinner at Trail's End in Windham. Decent food, horrible service. After dinner we drained the last of our brews and lounged at the Inn.
Sunday we got up and had another of Nancy's great breakfasts. I had obtained some trail maps/beta from the Windham Mountain Outfitters so we hit up some local trails on Elm Ridge. The trails were much different than what we ride at home! I had fun but was a little disappointed that there wasn't more!
After riding I had my work cut out for me cleaning and packing the bikes. After many hours of scrubbing and disassembly/packing I piled the stuff into the Tahoe and drove to Albany for the night. We checked into a pretty beat down HoJo's and then dined at Bucco di Beppo's before turning in for the night.
Monday has been the worst travel day of my life and I will leave that for another post if I wind up whining about it...